jon_chaisson: (Default)
I dunno...maybe it's the current administration's fault. ;-)

No, seriously, the Fuckwit has angered one side and emboldened the other that I've found myself getting exhausted by the reactive moods of Twitter and Facebook over the last few months.  I won't complain that the platforms are going down the crapper, though.  Both of them are what they are, with both good and bad points to them.  They have good days and bad days. 

I'm finding myself editing my online words a lot more than I used to.  Mind you, it has nothing to do with censorship at all.  It's more about a personal debate as to whether it's worth getting in to a conversation.  It's funny; sometimes I'll be typing a response on Twitter, but if it takes me more than a minute to type it out because I'm trying to word it right, then I'll just delete it.  No online argument is worth that much of my time.  Same with Facebook -- I'll join in on an argument now and again, but most of the time it's on someone else's timeline, and I hate hijacking someone else's feed, so I'll hold back unless necessary.  [On a side note, this works to my advantage, as the immediacy then causes me to lose a few filters.  Beware when I have no fucks to give for someone's bullshit.]

In a way I've been trying to rebalance the writing platforms I use.  I'm happy to be back on a social blog platform like this one, because I can take my own time to get the words right.  There's no forced immediacy.  More personal writings stay offline.  Playground words are in the 750 Words.  And this gives me enough energy to work through the new writing projects.

Maybe the thrill and the amusement of instant social media has worn off for me a bit?  Could be, because I rarely go online to say 'hey, let's see what so-and-so is up to' as much as I used to.  A lot of friends I follow aren't superconnected as they used to be -- they've got more important things to do.  And I'm trying not to turn into an obsessive 'let's go watch a car crash' internetter.  Because *I* have more important things to do as well.

I'm trying to be more creative, more positive about these things.  It's hard sometimes, but it can be done.

Balance is always a good thing.
 

jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
It seems every couple of years I have this nagging urge to shake up my usual schedule of personal habits and endeavors.  It's almost like clockwork, actually.  I'll start feeling complacent, start getting bored with hitting the same points over and over, and need a change of scenery.  The turnaround seems to be about two years, three at the most.

So what does this mean?  This means that I've been thinking about my internet habits again.  Sure, I've had multiple sessions of unplugging for mental health reasons, as well as hiding away so I can finish off a major project, but they've always been for a finite amount of time.  Once I'm rested and/or all caught up, I'm right back into the thick of it.

Yeah, I've been bringing up that point of 'remember back in 2002 when I was rarely online' and wanting to return to that, but never quite acting on it.  It's still on my mind, but really, over the last few months I've been thinking about why I haven't acted on it.  Part of it is the worry that no internet footprint = no visibility = no book sales.  Part of it is just laziness and procrastination and distraction, that I can't be bothered to become a 21st century Luddite.

I've been making a few changes in those habits lately, though.  How many years have I had Twitter open in a browser tab, next to my email box tab?  Far too long.  I've never been one to keep all kinds of browsers open anyway, just as I like to keep my PC desktop as clean and orderly as possible.  [I have a few coworkers who have upwards to thirty or forty shortcuts pasted all over their screen.  Just the idea of that makes me twitch!]  But it's become all too obvioius that I'm distracting myself a lot more often than I have.

I know this for a fact because, as an experiment over the last month or so, I've been shutting down Twitter and sometimes even the email, leaving only the radio station I happen to be listening to.  [Or if I'm listening to my mp3s, closing down the browser entirely.]  So every time I've had the temptation to go online and read something, I'd have to open up a tab and go to the site.  And lo and behold, I was opening it up way too often.  Even during my writing time, I was doing it, whether I was doing my daily 750 or in the middle of a writing session.

That's not good.

SO!  Here's the thing.  It's time for me to seriously change my internet habits.  Sure, I'll still visit Twitter to check in now and again, and I'll still be blogging on a weekly basis at my various places (here, Tumblr, and the 2 WP blogs), but other than that I think it's high time for me to take another vacation from social media, this one more permanent and extensive.

Point being:  What writing should I really be focusing on?  The 140-character bon mot, the comment of indignation, or the novels and stories I'm writing?
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
What is it with me being a blogging fiend lately?

Basically it's because I've decided to try something again: blogging when the urge hits me. Which, to be honest, is a lot more often than the actual follow-through. As you may recall, I backed away from constant blogging for awhile because I found I was getting irritated too easily, and harping on and blowing a lot of hot air. Even I'd gotten sick of my own whining, and chose to back away for a bit. Now that I'm more focused (and a little more grounded), I've decided it's time to be a bit more social online again.

I've been doing this with other creative outlets the last few days as well. Feel like making a comment about the writing world on Twitter? Go ahead and tweet. Feel like zipping out some more poetry? Pull out the composition book and dash away. Have an insight about a band I like? Post away! And even here, the blog I've reserved for more personal things...why not be vocal again?

Time to adjust the balance again. Be a little more open and productive.
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
Oh yeah, that's right, I had a Dreamwidth account! Well, no more...I just deleted it (after doing a quick copy/paste of its contents, which was about 60 poems written over the course of 2 years). Looks like the last entry was over two years ago. And while I was at it, I deleted the Scribble Diem LJ account as well, as that one hadn't been touched in three years.

I need to do more of this in general, really...I know I'm signed on with a lot of websites and services that I never use. Not that it saves any room or whatever, but it's one less thing floating around out there that has stayed well past its sell-by date. [Wait...I still have a MySpace account?? Is that still a thing?] And I'm sure most of them I used maybe once or twice about eight years ago, but haven't used since. I have a list somewhere of these sites, I'll have to find it and see what I can delete.
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
I've been rethinking this whiteboard schedule thing lately, and it occurred to me: I don't think I need to assign days for my creativity anymore...I think I need to assign a schedule for when to go online.

Let me explain this: after a good couple of weeks of ignoring the whiteboard due to work events, personal events and a vacation, I've come to the conclusion that my productivity issues aren't really based on the Don't Wanna's, but the Ooh Shiny's.

This is especially apparent since I've started a new Mendaihu Universe story a few weeks back by writing it completely longhand. I went over this on one of my other blogs a while back, but here's the thing: one of the reasons I'm writing longhand is that I wanted to try to return to the writing processes that I know truly worked for me. In this case, it's a mixture of the longhand writing of The Phoenix Effect in the late 90s (outcome: forces me to write without internal editing and trying to get it perfect first time out) and the lack of internet distractions in the early 00s during the trilogy writing (outcome: 'nuff said).

The end result of the longhand sessions so far has been extremely fruitful: I'm going by page count rather than word count and averaging about 1.5 to 2 pages a day, the story feels more organic, and I'm not feeling nearly as frustrated in general because I'm letting myself make the typical writing mistakes that I know can be fixed in rewrite/revision. And more to the point: I'm sitting all the way across the room on the loveseat here in Spare Oom, well away from the computer. My only distraction is deciding which music to play for that session's writing.

I like this new setup. A LOT. I could get used to this again. And considering nearly all of my creative works are offline (drawing, journaling, music, poetry), I see no reason not to expand it more. And as for the Daily 750: that too fell by the wayside due to personal and work issues, but I can just as easily pick it up again organically...I can just as easily hit those numbers longhand as well, and keep them in a single notebook for easier access.

Which brought me to the other elephant in the room: the social media and the two WordPress blogs.

To be honest, I have no problem with the blogs. I can keep up with those with minimal reminders. No, the big problem is my addiction to social media. There, I said it: addiction. It's not necessarily at detrimental level, but I'm catching myself refreshing the feeds more often than I'd like. Really, was I like this with LiveJournal? I don't believe I was, because that feed wasn't nearly as refreshable. But really--I know my weaknesses, I know how I react to certain subjects, and I've gone on about this for quite a while now. I keep saying I'm backing away, but I keep falling off that damn wagon. And that needs to stop.

So how about this:

How about using the whiteboard not as a writing schedule...but times I should pop online? Now, I'm not about to write "4pm - 6pm: check day's Twitter feed", which would be kind of silly. This is more like taking all the extraneous stuff off the whiteboard that I do anyway without reminders, and keep only the online stuff up: the blogs and the photo posts. Really, that's it. I'll still read my webcomics in the morning, check my emails and messages and whatnot. Keep a browser open if I'm streaming a station. Other than that, let's turn off the browsers we really don't need up. Bring one up if I need it for reference or any other valid reason? Sure. But otherwise, let's back away from distraction, for reals this time.

Here's to hoping it works.
jon_chaisson: (Charlie Brown confused)
Not antisocial--not in the context of going on social media and acting like a jackass. Lord knows enough has been said about that. And not in the context of refusing to log on because you've deemed social media the internet equivalent of the high school cafeteria where all the popular kids are talking loudly and happily, and you're off alone in the corner, glaring at them.

I'm talking about not being very social--that is, maybe logging on to Twitter/Facebook/LJ/wherever, maybe reading a few items, but not responding to anything (literally or figuratively), maybe not even staying for the drinks afterwards. It's not that you're finished with the drama...it's more that you just find yourself uninterested in any conversations that may be going on.

I guess that's where I'm at here...I mean, I like heading online to say hi to all my friends back east, or the newer friends I've made elsewhere that I've never met in real life, or the writers (professional or just starting out) that I consider friends as well as 'co-workers' in a way. On the same token, my slow retreat from social media over the past year has definitely been one of the best moves I've made personally. Once I shook off that habit of supposedly Needing to Be On Top of Everything, a lot of those priorities not only fell away, but after a while a lot of them started looking, well, laughable.


The major retreat for me was politics. I was never really all that interested in politics for most of my life, to be honest--sure, there was a bit of blissful ignorance involved early on, but for the most part I think there was also the fact that I tended to see the eternal battle between Republicans and Democrats to be like a sports event. Each team got together at certain preordained times and attempted to beat the snot out of each other to attain a hard-won victory. I hoped that these battles were at least for good causes, but I also knew and understood that the mindsets would eventually change around the next election cycle. Sometimes my team would win, but sometimes my team would lose and we'd be stuck with frustration for two to four years. Then things would change. Sure, I wished we'd all agree on something that works instead of what we want personally, but I didn't dwell on it. It wasn't until 2000ish when I started following politics with any seriousness, and even then I wasn't too vocal about it, nor did I have any really strong feelings either way. I only became more vocal about it by 2004, for obvious and varied reasons that I'll skip here. And by 2005 I was reading Daily Kos on a daily basis.

It came to a head around 2010 when I realized I was just getting too frustrated. I'd lost focus on what was important to me. Sure, there are political things that are important to me, but they're not my raison d'ĂȘtre...that's my writing and my ongoing research and fascination with music. Selfish? Maybe, but there's a line where I need to live my life and not everyone else's. Since then I turned it around and started focusing completely on what I really wanted to do--finish my trilogy, prepare it for submission, and work on other writing projects, and the last few years have been very fruitful for me. I may not be published yet, but the quality of my work is a hell of a lot better than it once was.


Part of the reason I brought all that up is just the way I view things on social media now. I think part of this line of thinking started when I started wondering why some of my friends are rarely online, if at all. I had a few friends from college that I never see anywhere online, so I've no idea what they might be up to these days. One of them was on Facebook but only to play those games we used to see all the time on our timelines; he did his own thing. There's another friend from the YC days who's on FB, but he and his wife only go on to post a few pictures or say hi to relatives and friends. I know of others who rarely if ever post anything at all.

It has nothing to do with not knowing how to post, or being opinionated and dismissive or even afraid of social media, or having ragequit the internet at some point...there are just those who don't find it all that important. They're the ones who post the kid pictures, the vacation pictures, the mundane "I drew/knitted/played with this today" updates. There's no Absolute Importance to it--it's just someone living life offline and wanting to share it online.

I just began to feel all the noise against that (directly and indirectly) was getting old. Sure, a lot of it's snark, but Snark as a Comedic Device gets old VERY quickly, at least for me. After a while it turns into a hack telling a dry old joke and nudging you in the ribs a little harder than necessary saying "Get it? Huh? Get it? GET IT? HUH? GET IT?" with increasing volume. Hell, even I've toned down the snark myself. I used to be downright biting in the Seinfeld 90s. Seriously, there are those of us who actually enjoy going online to check out what our friends our doing without each one of us trying to be a Comedian about it. There's something to be said that my college friend Kate posted pictures the other day of her oldest finally heading to kindergarten for the first time. It's sweet and it's fun...it serves no greater purpose other than the poster being proud of their kids or their creations. And I just never understood all the whiny bitchiness about those kinds of posts. Maybe you were just trying to be funny-snarky? I don't know, but the smartassery grew old a good couple of years ago. Sometimes I just like to enjoy the mundane, and honestly, is there really a problem with that?

Back to my point--it's not as if I'm ragequitting the internet myself here, far from it. There's too much good stuff out there to investigate, and there's a hell of a lot of great resources out there for my writing and my music interests. It's like I said earlier, I've just learned to block out all the Noise. I've defriended a number of people on various social platforms for no other reason than I just didn't feel like reading a lot of negativity. They could be totally fine people, and they can have whatever opinions they want, and they may need a platform to release some anger or personal issues, and I'm okay with that...I'm talking about the feeds that are filled with "NOPE" and "I'm just about done with humanity" and "Oh the feels" and other updates about All the Wrong in the World--the users with nothing positive to say, the ones who are actively and frequently posting (and crowing about) every injustice in the world. I'm not cutting people out of my life--I'm just choosing not to follow them on a daily basis. I can still look up their feed if I so choose. I'm just turning off the radio for a bit when I get tired.


Okay, that's enough blathering on for now. I've got a few other thoughts on this, and will probably post a bit more later.
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
The other day I tweeted the following:

Using semantics as an arguing point isn't valid. It only makes you sound like a dick. You can do better than that.

This came about after watching a friend's Twitter argument with someone about the news from Cleveland, in regards to whether neighbor Charles Ramsey was truly a hero or not. He was the one who heard the woman's cries in that locked house, helped break down the door, and get her to a phone so she could call 911. To some he was a hero, because he acted on the cries for help. To others, he wasn't a hero--I'm not entirely sure why, since I wasn't privy to their explanation, but it made me wonder about why they would think that. Was it because their definition of "hero" was in strict terms of a Michael Bay hero who saved the girl while the house blew up in spectacular 3D pyrotechnics? Was it because their "hero" needed to be wearing a uniform? Was it that Mr. Ramsey wasn't a dashing young man, but an older black man of probably middling education and had a deliberately amusing way of talking? Or was it because there's a specific threshold that needs to be reached before Hero Status--that is, they'd have needed to enter the house themselves and get the other women out?

My point is...when I hear arguments like this, I think they're missing the point. Focusing on the meaning of the term "hero" and not the act itself. This is something I've seen quite a bit in social media over the last few years, and have always seen in one form or another in the past. It's definitely a favorite derailer of arguments and debate for certain Republicans, and especially with certain less-than-impartial news outlets. It's a deliberate deflection of the conversation and a deflation of the subject's importance, pretty much aimed to get the other side all flustered and wonder if it's worth arguing about in the first place.

The main thing that irritates me when people use semantics as an arguing point is that, at least to me, they're not taking the subject seriously at all, even though they might think otherwise. In a way it kind of feels like the debates we used to hear in high school and college--for an easy example, let's say the debate on whether a band is indie or simply pandering to the masses. [In the 80s and early 90s, this would have been the classic "punk or poseur" argument. ;) ] My personal take on that had always been musical--bands could be played on a commercial alternative station like WFNX and still be considered punk; it was just a (then-rare) commercial outlet that was being offered. Others, however, dismissed any form of "alternativeness" once it hit that commercial outlet, because, semantically, alternative and commercial had been polar opposites.

Sure, that's a slight and silly example, but it proves my point--I was arguing the finer points with someone who was arguing terminology, and that's not what debate is about. When you're personally and/or emotionally invested in a subject, it's irritating to have someone question it when their own investment is that shallow.

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