Why I Have Trouble With Social Media

I have trouble with social media. I grew up in the age of Prodigy and AOL, getting into chatrooms, playing 8-bit games, coyly trying to pretend I was cooler than what I actually was, by presenting myself to be my ideal self.  This seems to be the norm with people in my age group, how we were introduced to the internet and how we interacted with it.  If I looked like how I presented myself, back in those early days, late 1990s, I would be tall, smooth-skinned with long, Pantene-esque hair, and a good cook. Now, in my forties, I’m not any of those things (and I’m ok with that), but what we wanted to be versus what we turned out to be is a right of passage, of self-discovery.

MySpace was the first real venture that encouraged us to put our actual faces on the internet.  Oh to think how innocent we were then! Then Facebook, before everyone’s grandma joined in.  Gazillions of photos instantly available for any situation! If you missed an event, there are photos! If you want to see how your old high-school sweetheart turned out? There’s photos of him and his kids! And in the back of our heads, every time we take photos, we are thinking about how this will look on the internet.  Photos are more staged; smiles are doubly encouraged to show WHAT A GREAT TIME WE ARE HAVING.  All I can picture is the montage of photos they show at the end of someone’s life so we’re all inspired to think, “She was always so happy!”  Was she, though? The face we put on for the internet (read: what the masses see, not your physical close circle) is not who we are.  To post a picture of vulnerability, of sadness, of truth on Facebook or Instagram, or whatever social media the youngsters are using comes across as a call for attention.  If someone isn’t smiling, there’s going to be a good reason for it, right? But they were smiling in all 1,000 of their other photos, so this is just a hiccup and they’ll be better! Photos that show us not having a good time, slumped on the couch in our three-day old pajamas, those are real… but it’s not what the people want.

I think about Anthony Bourdain a lot.  I mean, a lot.  I’ve read his books, followed his television shows, and thoroughly enjoyed his commentary on life.  In Kitchen Confidential, he was open and honest about his mental health issues, as well as his fall into drugs and alcohol while working in the restaurant business. There are no circulating photos of this time period of his life, of him passed out in an alley, of him cutting off pieces of his fingers from slicing vegetables because he was too high to be working.  These would be photos of truth, but they aren’t circulated because people don’t want to remember that. They don’t want to see the truth of life.  The imagery shown of him traveling to different cultures, hugging grandmas who cook their monthly stipend’s worth of food just for one television show, of him meeting old friends on cobblestone streets and drinking fine wines, it’s awe-inspiring.  He connected with so many people, more than he could ever know just by the broadcasting of his shows.  You can easily find photos of him in picturesque locales, practicing jujitsu, hanging out in someone’s backyard for a crawfish broil.  These are the social media faces we put on.  He had his inner-turmoil.  It wasn’t seen, it wasn’t visible, and I feel like he and others like him aren’t empowered to show these vulnerable sides.  Social media has taken this away from us.

I guess my point is that we have stopped being true to ourselves because we’ve changed the idea of truth.  Social media has made us feel like we need to show the brighter side of life, even if it isn’t the truth. Let’s be real to each other.  Even if you feel like you need to keep posting those fun and smiley images, talk to people and tell them who you really are.  That’s most important.

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Anyone Else Losing Their Sh!t About Final Fantasy VII: Remake?

Where are you Final Fantasy VII: Remake? It’s been five years since SquareEnix played that heartwarming teaser announcement at E3. Back in 2014. I was a different person then. Barack Obama was still President and our biggest worry was getting quarters for the laundromat. Now we have a President Rufus and our own washing appliances. The appliances are nice, the President is not. (This is where I say Trump is like President Rufus #callingit)

I remember everything about the original game, when it came out in 1997. My boyfriend at the time started playing it on the living room TV, and when he wasn’t playing it, our roommate Michael was. There was no way I was able to squeeze in with a controller during that time, but I enjoyed watching and strategizing nonetheless. This wasn’t my first experience with a roleplaying game or Final Fantasy game, either. I remember knocking out all the previous Final Fantasy on Nintendo and Gameboy. This game was different though, because visually it was stunning (at the time). Those pixelated bodies were believable, and when a cut scene happened, it was pure art.

Remember Wall Market? Tifa is abducted and carried away in a chocobo-drawn carriage. Aeris and Cloud followed and you complete small tasks in order to obtain believable cross-dressing garb. One venture brings you to the Honey Bee Inn, a brothel full of ladies dressed in bee costumes. In one of the lavishly decorated rooms, if you aren’t careful, you’ll be joined by a dozen extremely horny gay guys in a hot tub. Cloud gets vivacious in a dress, wig, and some perfume, and you’re placed in front of Don Corneo, some rich slob who wants to pick out his wife based on her looks. If you did your questing a certain way, he’ll pick Cloud and it’s the best ever. I want to see how they twist this in the remake, because many of the themes here would not fly today.

Remember leaving Midgar for the first time? So much happens in the walled-city, but once you see open sky with no borders, the game becomes… expansive. There’s so many places to see! The Golden Saucer, where you can play all the mini-games! And they’re good mini-games! My favorite was the Moogle Romance and the motorcycle game. Don’t get me started on the claw, it was totally rigged. And Cosmo Canyon, home of Red XIII, which catered to my hippy, nature loving core.

Remember that grind to get the Golden Chocobo? All those times running across chocobo prints in the wild, and hoping they’ll eat your nuts. (I just had to.) Then you race them eleventy-gabillion times to raise their ranking, then breed them with another chocobo that you’ve done the same regimen on, hoping to get the next color chocobo. But the Golden Chocobo was worth it, because with it, you could travel over the oceans to Round Island, where you would find the coveted Knights of the Round materia. Yeah, the biggest, baddest materia that did the most damage to your enemies. Now, think about pairing that with a W-Summon (for those that don’t FF7, it allows you to summon twice in a row!). I think I just came a little thinking about it.

I could go on about this game. The soundtrack, the beach resort and the funny banter between the Turks, getting Vincent Valentine in your party, who is a (spoiler alert) VAMPIRE, or Yuffie who makes you trust her, then stabs you in the back and steals all your stuff. And this game totally breaks the wall surrounding mental illness and post-traumatic stress disorder, letting people know that it can happen to anyone. Sephiroth is the coolest bad guy ever, and I have a replica Masamune in the gameroom.

Now what do we know about the Remake? Not much, other than IT’S BEEN 5 YEARS AND WE KNOW PRACTICALLY NOTHING. I’m glad a majority of the production staff are insiders, people known to have worked on the original. This is a big deal because this game HAS TO BE RIGHT. I can’t take another burn (I’m looking at you Bethesda). It’s also going to made on the Unreal Engine, which has brought us some decent games. I’m trusting the trailer that the graphics are going to be aesthetically pleasing and unique. The game may also be released in installments. Hopefully they are spaced accordingly and not 5 YEARS APART. What else? Nothing, people. Nothing.

But E3 is coming up soon, June 11-13. If you’re reading this SquareEnix, I’m counting on you to make this right, but I kinda need it now.

(images belong to Squaresoft, I just meme’d them up)

The End. -A

Slytherin Pride Day!

I have so many feelings about being a Slytherin. When the books and films were released, I always thought myself a Gryffindor. Everyone did, right? Because the main characters were so brave, adventurous, and were highlighted prominently. Pottermore obviously changed that, when I placed the virtual Sorting Hat upon my virtual head and was sorted into Slytherin.

I became depressed, not in the usual way, but in the way that my geekdom had failed me. How could I be a Slytherin? I kept imagining Draco Malfoy’s sneer as he told me “You’re stupid, you don’t even deserve to be in the same house as me.” But that was my problem. I had this perception (no thanks to the films) that Slytherin were these snooty, know-it-all, selfish, conniving jerkwads. I’m not any of those things, at least I don’t think so. I stand up for my friends, I get shit done, at least I could be a little Ravenclawish. But no. Slytherin. It’s in my blood. It’s in my Meyers Briggs profile. (INTJ watup!)

It took a year of me denying the fact that I was sorted into this house before I started to feel comfortable with it. Here’s a truncated list of Slytherin qualities:

  • ambitious
  • cunning
  • strong leaders
  • achievement-oriented

I’ve come to realize that those qualities, in the mind and body of a teenager (like the films and books) make them exactly those snooty, jerkwads that teenagers tend to be. As an adult, Slytherins are much more relatable. Yes. I am ambitious! I have so many projects on my table that sometimes I get overwhelmed. Cunning? Hell yes I am! I seduced my husband with my wit, and particular knowledge about ubergeek stuff that I knew he would dig. I’m also proud of my ability to encourage others to get to the end-game so I don’t have to. It’s part of my enabling scheme to help others. I get off on helping others, too, so it works for everyone. Strong leader? Holy shit, this will take a paragraph.

I hate leading. I hate it so much I italicized it. I’m not fond of being the center of attention. But I’m a badass leader. I like things to be done in a particular way, and if it’s not done to my exact specifications, it’s garbage. So, to prevent more garbage, I have a habit of just sliding into a leadership role. For example, being a guildmaster for years in a MMO and moderating other groups. I guess you can say that I hate garbage more than I hate being in a leadership position. I used to get paid to tell people what to do. I thrived.

Playing video games my whole life taught me to be achievement oriented. Like I talked about in my previous entry “So My Therapist Told Me to Start a Blog,” I crave that little endorphin rush whenever I achieve a specified goal. Especially if there’s little blips or happy pop-ups celebrating my achievements.

Also of note, Merlin was a Slytherin. It’s standard for all Slytherins to name drop Merlin because he was always considered badass. Those that know me in real life, I have an unnatural obsession with Arthurian legend. I connect with the different variations of the story. The Dark Tower by Stephen King is one of those variations, and I believe the Man in Black / Walter / Randall Flagg / Maerlyn, (he has many names) etc., also known as the main villian, an underthing to the Crimson King, had to have been Slytherin. He manipulated Roland Deschain’s path to his advantage, so that Roland could learn what he needed to learn, bond with whom he needed to bond with, lose what he needed to lose, and grow into what he needed to be before he climbed the Dark Tower, his life goal. I relate to the Man in Black. I see why he did the things he did.

So looking back at my behaviors, I was always a Slytherin. I needed a stupid online test to tell me that, but it just helped me embrace myself in a healthier way.

So My Therapist Told Me To Start a Blog

I know she meant well. She recognized that I’ve been progressing.  Over a year ago, she had me start a journal. She didn’t care what I wrote in it, she just wanted me to get in the habit of writing my thoughts down.  And I took to it, in my normal fashion… which is to say that I went ALL IN.  I got a fancy graph paper journal, some fancy Japanese fine-tipped markers of varying colors, and searched for days for the perfect Bullet Journal templates.

Mind you, she didn’t tell me to do all this. She didn’t mention anything about bullet journaling, fancy markers, or tracking EVERY SINGLE GLASS OF WATER that I drank for the day.  I chose to do those things myself, because I felt that if I was going to do something, I better go all out because I’m a data whore.  (That’s probably another blog entry)  I can honestly say I journaled for about 3 months. I spoke to others about the benefits of it, like I was selling this snake-oil remedy for everyone’s depression problems.  Then I stopped.  I’m ok that I stopped, I’m journaling in my head (RE: Letters to Nobody).  My hand hurt, and it was depressing seeing my empty calendar.

So now she says to start a blog.  I have diverse interests, I write stuff, I art stuff, she thinks that I can teach people some cool stuff.  Now here’s the problem with starting a blog if you have a personality like mine.  I grew up with the internet.  First with Prodigy, then AOL, on past dial-up, forums, MUDs, MMOs, chatrooms, FB, Instagram, Tumblr before it sucked, etc., etc.  Just like 99% of society, I thrive off the feeling of internet recognition. I’ve been saying for years, “I’m famous on the internet!, ” when I’m really not. I just have people I talk to on the regular.  Internet recognition like Thumbs Up emojis, reshares, engaged conversations, roleplays.  It’s the musical sound you get from a trophy or achievement on Playstation or Xbox.  That small blip of satisfaction.  No one else gives a shit, it’s just a small bit of endorphins letting you know you accomplished something. You were seen for JUST A SECOND, even if it wasn’t by human eyes. 

And a blog.  A blog is where you throw down whatever content you want.  In my case, a bunch of ragtag off-beat stuff.  And I want people to read it.  I want someone to connect with it.  EVEN THOUGH I SAID IT WAS FOR ME.  I’m not supposed to care if anyone reads it because I told myself this blog was for me. But that endorphin pool sitting below the surface rumbles… it says… LET ME OUT BECAUSE I KNOW THIS FEELING! So I start joining these stupid FB groups to promote my site.  I made a logo! I started a Twitter account (OMG WHY!??!?!!) in hopes that I use the right hashtags to entice someone to this free blog.  I’ve read articles on how to promote my blog, how to pin it to pinterest, how to stylize and SIGN UP HERE FOR 10 LOW PAYMENTS. Oh gawd, it’s so dumb what our brains and chemicals make us do. This is a rabbit hole I don’t wish upon anyone.

She meant well. I’m going to do my best and write about subjects I care about, even if I don’t have a gimmick or solid theme.  I think my little dead-eyed poop emoji logo is appropriate.

The End. -A

Calling People Out on Their Bullshit

As I’ve aged, I realize that I give zero fucks about so many things that used to be so important to me. I recognize that it’s part of growing up, you’ve got to invest in garbage before you realize what’s treasure. In our current political and societal climate, I’m becoming even more aware of things that are more bullshit than they need to be. Below is an indefinite list of issues that I would call BS on because they exacerbate and enable the same bullshit behavior, preventing people from growing and actually connecting with each other.

  • racism
  • homophobia
  • passive aggressiveness
  • presumptuous, know-it-all behavior
  • inconsiderate behavior, especially in public
  • one-upping for attention

I know it’s easy to build a wall around your feelings about these sorts of things, or to even excuse them. Oh grandpa comes from a different generation! He just doesn’t know any gay people! No. Don’t be a dick, accept other people, it’s none of your business what people do.

There’s also a right way and many wrong ways to call out bullshit. When you call bullshit on someone, you want to do it productively. You want them to consider their behavior so that they don’t repeat it in the future. So, how do we do this?

  1. Call bullshit on the behavior, not the person. Say something like, “I don’t believe that’s correct, motherfucker,” [motherfucker added at your discretion] or “That sounds like hate speech to me,” instead of “Why are you so racist/homophobic/holier-than-though/etc.?” or “That’s bullshit!”
  2. Be prepared to say why their behavior isn’t correct and be respectful dammit. It’s hard, I know. You probably want to yell at them for their unseemliness, but you have to help them see the error of their ways. People don’t want an infodump why they’re bad, so don’t list off all the shitty things they’ve said or done. “I don’t know about you, but in my family we were taught to respect others.” “How would you feel if So-And-So heard you say that?” “Excuse me, I’m right here.” I use that last one A LOT at the grocery when people pretend not to see me. Or a tasty one… respond with silence and hard eye-contact. When they ask what’s up, ask them why they would say such a thing when they know it hurts you. Be prepared for a real conversation after that one.
  3. Some people do the things they do because they’re covering up for deeper issues. For example, those people who one-up a conversation with something bigger and brighter than what you were talking about in order to shift the conversation to themselves. This is where you can say, “Yo, bro, I was talking about this thing, we’ll talk about yours when I give a shit.” Ok, ok, you can think that, but it’s probably better to dismiss them completely rather than feed that fire they want to stoke. If they try to bring up their one-upness again, a casual, “Oh, I thought we were talking about my thing,” may shut them up.
  4. One of the biggest things that irks me is people being passive aggressive. It’s definitely one of those behaviors that’s hard to detect until you’ve experienced and been burned by it. People who tend to be passive aggressive desire to feel dominant in some way. Diffusing their statements with humor may turn the tide. Some feel like they don’t have a voice or think they aren’t being listened to. Acknowledge them and ask “How would you resolve this, then?” Directly telling someone they’re a passive aggressive bitch isn’t going to get you anywhere, as much as you want to just tell them that. You aren’t their therapist, but diffusing and ignoring are your best tools.

Be prepared for the worst. People are shit sometimes. Don’t surround yourself with toxic people, and if you can cut them off, do so. Connect with people on a deeper level, try to see from their perspective, and if it’s a shit perspective, try to educate them.

The End. -A

Letters to Nobody

Have you ever written a formal letter to a politician, president, or restaurant you really hated? I have, mostly in my head, while my opinions are well-heated, but they still linger sometimes.

When Ted Cruz was running for Senator again in my home State, I wrote him this long letter (in my head, obviously) about what a dickhead he is. He really is a dickhead. Let’s list some dickhead things about Ted Cruz:

The President talked shit about him and his family, and he didn’t have the balls to stand up for them.

Ted Cruz opposes Net Neutrality. Any good internet user knows that Net Neutrality under Title II laws protects us from throttling and being sold out to advertisers and big business. Ted Cruz? He doesn’t give a shit because they’re paying him out.

Ted Cruz believes that gun control legislature is ‘”tiresome.” Seriously, guy? PEOPLE ARE GETTING SHOT ALL THE TIME. Just 3 hours ago, a guy was shooting at an IHOP 3 miles from my house.

I could really go on, but it just has me seething thinking about the Zodiac Killer and how they have yet to prove that it was Ted Cruz the whole time.

So in my beautifully articulate letter in my head, I told him off. I told him that he doesn’t deserve the position he’s in to handle lawmaking for my State, nor the country. He doesn’t have my best interests at heart. He’s a snake that would rather buff up those that grease his palms than those who live in his districts. This asshole is so high up on his horse that he would only give me a canned letter back that has nothing to do with what I wrote to him anyways. (Example in case, my concerns about the repeal about Net Neutrality in 2018 and his auto-generated letter indicating that he didn’t even read what I wrote)

So if you’re reading this Ted Cruz: Fuck you. I can’t wait for you to be bumped out of office and political life forever. Your family doesn’t deserve you. You also look stupid with a beard.

Sometimes I’ve written letters in my head for good things. Like to my local library that always seems to find obscure Japanese films for me that I request. The stuff I want is super expensive and rare, too. Sure, I could get it from Amazon for $50, but in a few short months, they somehow manage to acquire it! My internal letters to the acquisition team are usually heartfelt and appreciative of them supporting my odd tastes. I imagine them reading my letters, being happy that someone thought to write them a letter, and then they actually read how weirdo I am.

If you’re reading this, public library near me: You’re the best and I appreciate you.

And lastly, I write internal letters to celebrities. My latest was to comedian Louis C.K. and how he disappointed me. I told him how much I used to be such a fan of his work, any film, TV, standup, I was there, supporting his craft. We saw him live and laughed our asses off. I cross stitched one of my favorite lines of his. “The meal isn’t over when I’m full. The meal is over when I hate myself.” So relatable, right? Then he had to go and use his position to his sexual gains and it was just shitty. And now we can’t like him anymore. He ruined his career and our adoration for his humor.

If you’re reading this Louis C.K.: You suck and you’ll never be the same in our eyes.

These are just a few examples in my head of letters I’ve written. Obviously, this is just a tribute (like “Tribute” by Tenacious D) and will never be as good as what I’ve actually written.

The End. -A

What the What?

So why start a blog that no one is going to read? Maybe someone will read it. Maybe others will bookmark it to their favorites and only check it when they are sitting on the toilet (#lifegoals). Maybe someone will find one little snippet of truth that connects with them so profoundly that they will feel better about their life for just an instant.

I know I want to write. I feel the urge all the time and reminisce about the days that I would blog in character for LegendMUD. I have a handful of adolescent-looking journals buried deep in boxes that no one can get to, for fear of my awful, angsty, two-faced entries seeing the light of day, or even worse… someone’s eyeballs. But I’m a better writer now. I know that because I read a shitload of books, and some of that has to have rubbed off on me, right? I mean, I know what a good sentence is. I sometimes try to write in a formal, literary fashion, and sure it comes out okay, but for this setting, I’m going to write as I feel and as I talk. It’s more natural that way.

So what are my plans for this digital space?

  • It’s for me.
  • Anyone else reading this is just bonus points.
  • Articles on my life, my bullshit, other people’s bullshit, influences, etc.
  • Memes

The End. -A