Money

Today, I am reminded of how our view of the World depends entirely on where we happen to be looking at the time.

I watched a fairly passionate discussion via Twitter over the weekend on the best means of selling oneself: a lot came out of it, not all of it was easy to read. It is abundantly apparent when you meet someone for whom Twitter isn’t a lively discussion platform. They’re often the same type of writer who inevitably look down on self-publishing as largely irrelevant. If you don’t have an agent, what are you even doing?

Some days, from where I sit, a lifetime of empathy and understanding is missing between those who publish ‘traditionally’ and their counterparts, who are often digital natives. Bridging the gap between these two continents can appear literally impossible, but there are those who try. When you watch these brilliant souls being taken to task or being belittled for their industry, it is beyond depressing.

In the end, all anybody wants is to be successful. That goes without saying, but I will say that a lot of respect was lost for both the individuals who employed an automated service to try and sell me a selection of their wares via Direct Message, as if I wouldn’t realise they’d paid a third party service to do just that. If I didn’t know what this was, I might believe they’d taken the time to target me specifically too.

Except, in both cases, all this was promotion for content I then had zero interest in consuming. Looking at their Twitter feeds, there was no believable discussion there either, just more advertising. This is ‘pretend conversation’ that is immediately muted, and then blocked, because these people really don’t understand what Twitter is, and it sure as hell isn’t Facebook or Instagram. Your methods will not work here.

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When the time comes, and it will, I promise faithfully not to ram my work down your throats. Effort will be made to create interesting and unique ways to advertise myself. It sure as hell will not be a random, impersonal message into anybody’s inbox. The only way stuff ever changes is if you decide to go out on a limb and do something amazing. Those are the things worth remembering, whilst the DM’s are long forgotten.

True stars will shine without need for extra illumination…

GSME #18 :: Wake Up

social-media-asides

This week’s cautionary tale has very little to do with reach and engagement, but instead is a warning. I’ve been considering ‘boosting’ some of my IoW Essays via Twitter’s own promotion feature, to see if there is any merit in extending my remit. That can’t be done until I have some actual content to promote, and as of tomorrow there will be three essays from which to choose. I’ve been waiting for this point to arrive, and whilst doing so I’ve been trying to find places where I could also hawk myself about without the need to shell out some cash. I’ve realised today that I should be very careful not simply with what I choose to promote, but also when that happens.

Someone needs to stop me posting anything unless I’m 100% awake.

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I’ve now made a complete fool of myself in several places over the last week, all by the simple expediency of posting before I was paying sufficient attention. That means, effectively, any communication with anyone before 9am BST is now off the cards. I need to have drunk at least one cup of tea, possibly several. Most importantly, if I wish to continue to communicate with those I do not know or who don’t follow me, I cannot say ANYTHING confrontational AT ALL. If I see summat I disagree or have an issue with?

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Social media might work best with brutal honesty, but sometimes it is better served with silence. Knowing when to say nothing at all is possibly the best life skill you ever learn. Whether it’s that bloke you know is trying to be genuine but just ends up sounding creepy, or the girl dealing with her breakup by making every tweet about how horrible her ex was… they don’t want to know the truth, your opinion, or indeed any point in between. What they need is the belief that the sanctity of Twitter allows them to shout into the void on this occasion and not get a reply. This is not the time for reminding them that they have 325 people who could all be listening, and getting mightily hacked off, or who disagree with their stance.

Most importantly of all: learn when to pick the battles, and understand that even with the best will and all the planning in the World, sometimes you’ll just screw it up regardless.

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Apart from shooting myself in the foot, it has been a pretty decent week, all told. Once I’ve done my first promotion, there’ll be stuff to report. Until then? I’m making sure I’m fully caffeinated at all times.

The results are already considerably better than when I wasn’t paying attention.

Writing as Therapy :: Shut Up

This is only the second time I’ve used that song title for a Blog Post. I’ll take that as a minor triumph. I’m also aware that I owe you another post on Depression, but this is more important, because when I open my mouth and words come out, there are often all manner of unintended consequences I don’t consider. Take today, for instance.

Sometimes I write stuff and know I’m putting myself up for potential issues. This comes down to an understanding not only of the place I work in, but a grasp of the people who ‘live here’, many of whom I never communicate with unless they want something from me. I know the people who just say ‘hi’ and are happy to chat and normally come with a cuppa or a snack when they do. Then there are those people who’ll ask the occasional favour of me (normally reading shit) and for them, I will drop everything. Then there are those whom I know just read my post and need to point out their perceived injustice: typos, meaning, you name it I get the need to pop up, because you guys care too and that’s utterly cool.

Then I look at the people who don’t say anything at all right up until the moment they think they’re being ignored. I’ve written about this subset before, for various reasons, but today I had an epiphany of the like I’ve not experienced before. I am the agent of my own demise: because I choose to stand up and be critical, often that’s all that is needed to start a fight, often from a place where one doesn’t even exist. It goes back to the ‘popular’ opinion Tweet up top. Saying someone is X, even when X is an obvious truth to you just isn’t useful sometimes, because that doesn’t mean stuff gets better. What you really need is someone who ignores the bad and simply focuses on good in order to effect real and palpable change. 

I, in effect, really am the problem because I can’t look at the world 100% positively all of the time.

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Depression makes me want to fight everybody: the world, other people, myself. When I see something wrong I have to try and fix it right away, and only today did I work out why. It came from the most innocuous of conversations too: my daughter saw a meme I made yesterday about my 5 favourite chocolate bars, and went to the shops to buy them for me. When she asked me what I’d eaten while she was at school, I told her I’d gone for the #1 option. The conversation went as follows:

HER – That’s weird, I’d have gone for the number five and built up to the best.

ME – But what if I died today and then I was only on number 5, I’d have missed the chance to appreciate my favourite first.

HER – Wow Mum, way to make this far more serious than it needed ever to be…

This is my problem. Even the mundane matters, far more than it ever does to anyone else. Twice in recent memory I’ve been asked by friends how I feel, and on both times have replied ‘well if I died tomorrow this is the happiest I’ve ever been’ reducing both to a level of incoherence I’d not quite grasped could be possible. I do look at every day as my last, and have done for as long as I can remember, because death sits with me far more comfortably than I realise is the case with others. When you drift close enough to something, it loses grip on you. I don’t care sometimes what consequences I create for myself, mostly because part of the joy now of being alive is to fight for everything, just so you can feel vital and not this terrible, horrific nothing that depression creates inside your soul.

If you’ve never felt how utterly damning that can be, I have no way I can make you understand, but trust me: your entire existence pivots around it, often whether you like it or not.

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Maybe this doesn’t make me the best advocate for building communities as a result. Perhaps people like me really should keep quiet, but sometimes rainbows aren’t the answer. Grabbing your own lapels and physically pulling yourself up to standing is all that works, because all those rainbow colours bleed into a grey, watery mess. You want joy but you can’t, even though your enthusiasm can be infectious. Only at the highest point will you ever see everything? Try being at the bottom and then look up. Your reference point is different, but the place is the same. Which matters more?

Should you try and make a difference, or is it best to leave it to the people who don’t work in the extremes?

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Some days, I wonder if I make the right choices. Today is one of them, mostly because what I love matters above all else, but others don’t see me well enough to understand what I’m trying to do. That’s when I understand that maybe, if I explained myself better, that might change.

So, maybe that is the place I ought to start.

Wake Up

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I’m getting really fucked off with people not reading stuff.

It’s not my content that this bothers me with, as it happens: I know now, having shifted from Blogger, just how much of my daily traffic was effectively trash/spam. Now it is clear that the robots can’t find me, I have a far better idea of what I’m doing and what needs to be improved, and when I get back to my desk after the scheduled Summer vacation, I am ALL OVER THAT. For now, I’m simply organising and building, but honestly? Some of you people need a right good slapping. I’ve watched a friend today state he won’t be blogging for a while and people automatically assuming he’s vanishing from the face of the Earth. I watch people on Twitter say one thing and others quite spectacularly take the 100% opposite meaning from their words.

On the Internet, you can really make the right wrong with very little effort.

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Then there are those who work really hard to make a point and nobody listens, right up to the moment when *someone else* says the exact same thing and suddenly it’s the best development/news/idea since The Best Thing Ever. Then I just want to toss the metaphorical table and give people a really good shaking: just because you noticed this now doesn’t mean it’s either new or fair to exclude those who’ve worked hard at the expense of what you find easy to cope with. So many people are incredibly good at just not paying attention, and then when I lament this? The range of responses always, inevitably includes the comment ‘I can’t be bothered to read your blog.’ Well, if all you’re interested in is your Facebook feel-good stories and your video that runs on mouse-over and the need to feel you have a better grasp on the World?

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Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Oh, and get that off my lawn.

It’s Oh So Quiet

Oh, social media ^^ 

Today’s post is prompted by someone yesterday, and another person last week, and that tweet from Friday. It’s a response to a question I see people ask more and more when it becomes obvious that curation has become a ‘thing’ for someone’s Social Media feed, and that somebody else who’s effectively been ‘curated’ has worked this out. Speaking as someone who makes liberal use of both mute and unfollow in Twitter clients? Maybe it’s time to explain to people what the fuck goes on in my mind, as a guide to how things work on a larger scale. The fact I even have to do this is testament to how much people now place significance in virtual relationships, and that worried me greatly. No matter, let’s get to it.

The question today?

You clearly have me muted. Why don’t you unfollow me?

Let’s stop the bus right here.
Moment of Theatre? ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED.
Thing #1, and this is kind of vital to all of the stuff that follows, is that in most cases you shouldn’t be asking this question in Public to begin with. If it bothers you that much that you’re talking to someone and they *appear* to have stopped communicating with you? Go ask them directly. Last time this happened to me, the person concerned was *very* public, extremely shirty and left of their own accord, because for some people the assumption is simple. If they follow you, you need to be paying attention 24/7. Needless to say? Not how life works. The fact I’d muted him because of that attitude to begin with shows that sometimes, its quite easy to predict that two people will rub each other up the wrong way. You become your own barometer, and as soon as selfish behaviour begins to manifest? You have a choice: walk away, or don’t.
Six hours later? Nope, sorry, had enough ^^
Thing #2 is a little more subtle. There are some people you have no problem having around, but their output is so prolific that you simply want a rest from it. So, from time to time, you just turn them down. That, after all, is what mute really means. In most cases, these people end up as a reflection of what you are as a person, like it or not, and it’s a salutatory lesson on how NOT to Social Media. You don’t put every thought and feeling down. You don’t talk into darkness because you’re alone and needy. Mostly, you just look at the words coming out of your mouth and learn to regulate the flow. For some people this is actually impossible, and when that happens, then you just turn them down. Mostly it doesn’t matter, and in the main they don’t notice. It’s like your parents having sex: yes, they did, maybe they still do, but you don’t need to know when they are. Become an arbiter of your own tolerances, and act accordingly.
I know how many people have me muted. Yes, I’m learning.


Don’t give me that look, I’m the Boss here ^^
Thing #3 you’re not going to like. Not only were you right and yes I have you muted, but you will get removed. No, I’m not going to tell you when, because that only causes more drama. In fact as you read this it has already happened, and I’ve moved on, and only now is it apparent what transpired. Now, when this happens to me (and it does with more regularity than you might think) I can go back through my followers list, work out when it happened and attempt a shoddy and completely pointless post mortem on the reasoning, followed by some hastily-concocted and thinly veiled subtweets which make no sense to anyone but me and probably just confuse more people on my feed to begin with. And that’s when you stop. I shouldn’t have to write an entire blog post on why some random person left you high and dry. This isn’t life, it’s the sanitised and manufactured 21st Century Version of finding out you got thrown out of your Treehouse Comic Club. You’re not nine any more. It doesn’t matter.
Get over it and move on.

==
In truth, the sensible people don’t follow you anyway. They have you on a List, or pick up your stuff via an App. Following is becoming increasingly passe for a large number of professionals who understand that actually, you don’t want people knowing who you’re listening to, because that makes it easier to see who they ‘borrowed’ their ideas from. More importantly, it prevents them from operating without being detected, and in a World where metrics are everything? That’s kind of a big deal. Mostly, I shouldn’t feel the need to write posts like this but I continually do, simply to remind those of you still thinking this is the Playground that although you may still be learning? This is not your clique, or your gang, or any other metaphor you decide to swing at the problem.
People meet, they interact, and then often they simply move on. If you are placing far too much significance on why that happens, you need to look to yourself as the issue before you even try and blame other people.
Often, you are the real problem. Take it from someone who grasps this fact only too well.

The Name of the Game


I need to be IN the car, right?

The last five days have been some of the most staggeringly unsettling I think I’ve experienced for a long time. The Real World continues to be dark, unpredictable and full of more angry people than I think most people actually realise. Most of the time that anger only manifests in Social Media. This week, that was peanuts in comparison to what we saw play out in Paris and across Northern France. These are places I’ve stayed in and I love, which hold memories that I refuse to be allowed to be sullied by the disenfranchised souls that decided to try and destroy what is held dear by so many. It might just be a coincidence, I suppose, but anger and confusion seems to have spilt out across the virtual world I inhabit too. It makes sense that people would feel threatened by events, and maybe this would translate into big things causing little things to ignite. When this all happens simultaneously, the World becomes a fight. Except, if I’m honest, that’s always the way it’s been.

This morning, I finally understood something significant for the first time.

Mr Alt got on my back before Christmas about my repeated use of the word ‘perception’ when trying to explain things to him, and last night, as I lay in bed, the word began to peculate in my head. Whether it was the row I had this week concerning what I thought the definition of a certain word actually meant, or the blog I was writing that sprang from the definition of another in someone else’s head, things have stopped being about general concepts any more, and they appear to be boiling down to single expressions. Accountability. Extremism, Feminism. These are definitions that people use to help them understand the World around them. They do this in many places: work, home, social media, and while the rules that govern the first two are often very rigidly defined, those of the third are almost perpetually in flux. What many individuals fail to grasp is that once you cross a line and engage someone else in a conversation via Social Media, your rules fail to completely apply. Notice the deliberate capitalisation there too, because once this happens even the environment may change at a moment’s notice and you could end up being sucked into an abyss you might never escape from.

Turbulence incoming 😀

Last night, I witnessed a meltdown on Twitter I had nothing to do with, but plenty of other people did. I went away and did some digging, and it became really rather apparent what had transpired, and from a distance the utter ridiculousness of the incident became all the more apparent when painted beside what the day had presented to me in World News. I suspect this kind of ‘flashpoint’ is happing everywhere, even as I type: Person A strays into Person B’s space and says something that contravenes/upsets/aggravates THE RULES. More than likely Person A will be completely unaware of said Rules in Person A’s space, and the reaction Person B gives is completely acceptable to them, but the opposite to Person A. DRAMA ENSUES. Then, as more people dive in and the Chinese Whispers increase, it becomes a swirl of turbulence, hapless pulling total bystanders into the vortex of recrimination and judgement.

The thing is, and this is important, these flashpoints do matter a great deal. They can affect Person A’s understanding that people don’t care or grasp how they feel, and that their defence of them is clearly correct: instead of providing illumination and understanding, they simply bolster anger and determination. Person B may stand by their assertions they did nothing wrong, but simply typing what they thought might not have been the most sensible cause of action on reflection. The standpoint of ‘well, that’s how I see it’ is fine until presented with someone who doesn’t. This is how conflict is born, and often the most damage is done to the people who find themselves caught between the two standpoints. The argument of ‘I don’t know these people and therefore it doesn’t matter’ becomes less and less moot with every Real World incident where people under the radar die because of events that could have been prevented IF PEOPLE HAD LISTENED. Just because its not happening in your social sphere, doesn’t mean it never will.

Needless to say, Twitter needs to consider who it recommends to me for follows based on a more sensible algorithm than simply who everyone else reads and who’s in my ‘circles’, because really? Social media is NOT that easy to define any more.

If all else fails…

I’ve long made the joke that my ‘brand’ on Social Media matters a great deal to me. The Alt is a mark I now use everywhere, because I understand the need for continuity, but more importantly I want to make sure people can see me for what I really am. Although it is unchanging on the surface, I am rapidly altering with every day. My attitudes, whilst once static and unmoving, attempt to shift and accommodate as the World evolves around me, and its hard, but what I stand for remains the same. To have the chance to interact with so many people is an opportunity I never thought I would ever see in my lifetime, and to turn any of this down, even the bad stuff? I would be the most stupid of fools. You’ll never have these opportunities again, and every moment is precious, after all. To learn to live in this world is a challenge, and to succeed is always a triumph.

In summary? Take your choices, and if you don’t like them, do something else. But NEVER FORGET the world isn’t just you. Please, PLEASE try and find a way to get on with the rest of Humanity, and don’t deliberately isolate yourself, because there are ALWAYS alternatives.

Trust me, down that road only danger lies.

Reach for the Stars


OMG ADDICTION.

My writing has changed over the years, mostly (I know) as a result of being read by people who I don’t know. There would be those that argue that this is all wrong, because the process shouldn’t be about what other people want, but more about what you need to say, and this is of course correct. It is incredibly easy to offend people by being honest: this I know from personal experience. Then you have to sit down and perform what could easily be equated as spinning 250 plates on 249 sticks: except, of course, if you start off with that mindset, you’ll never going to succeed to begin with. Writing isn’t for anyone else’s benefit than your own, and if you’re doing it to make a point at a particular person, you’re on a hiding to nothing before you begin.

If someone upsets you, this is your salutatory reminder that you’re on the Internet and you should walk away.


Keep them coming…

The longer term issue, at least for me, is the understanding you’re not taking things as seriously as maybe other people do. Using that word implies that you’ll be doing your absolute best at all times to boot, because you don’t live life by half measures. Yes, there are days like today when I’m cold and tired and wishing I could just shove my face full of chocolate, but this achieves nothing. Lying to myself or going back on commitments I have made to better health and long-term well-being are very easy to forget on days when you just want to roll up into a ball and wait for the Spring. It is being able to take a step back from the moment and find a bigger picture to grasp that is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to cope with as a writer. It is just so simple to get so utterly wrapped up in a narrative, to the point where you don’t think about anything else, and that is the moment when your reality stops being just that, and becomes something else entirely. Even in a fantasy world, you need belief. There needs to be an understanding of limits and expectations.

Just because you can live life to extremes doesn’t mean you actually should.


FULL SET GET IN.

Knowing when to walk away is a life skill I wish more people would practice, along with not just opening their mouth and spouting the first crap they come up with or deciding that their way is the only way anything ever gets better. From time to time I clear out my Twitter Mute List on Tweetdeck, only to inevitably add the exact same people back into the list the moment they appear, with the understanding that as my audience grows, I only feel comfortable with people who are actually listening. That means not objecting to the way I do things even if that clashes with their own ideologies, allowing me to have a difference of opinion without it becoming an International Incident, or simply just being decent. What I ought to do, and what I suspect will now start to happen, is that those who I mute that I actually follow will be quietly removed over time with the minimum amount of fuss, and by that I means I’ll force them to unfollow me too. Yes, you can do this: blocking someone will make them unfollow you, and unblocking will then leave them none the wiser. Except, in this case, I just told you how it works. So, if you get that old ‘Unfollower Bug’ thing going on with me in the weeks that follow, you’ll understand that I’m not just doing this for the numbers.

I’m here to enjoy this trip, and some people don’t seem to get that.