Sustainability Month 2021: My consideration of going vegan

This is not a confession but rather a musing. Full disclaimer: I am not a health expert. Over the last year, I’ve been focusing on healthier habits in my life and thus warrants exploration of going vegan. Another disclaimer: I eat meat. I enjoy a good steak every now and then and chicken? Well, I actually eat that quite often nowadays. Take the time now to gasp if you feel the need.

David Attenborough

David Attenborough raised a good point in ‘A Life On Our Planet’ His argument was simple, that being a carnivore in nature is tough. So how is it that we, coming from hunters and gatherers, have become the largest consumer of meat on the planet? That point raised one eyebrow in mild interest, as he continued to describe how the apocalypse and end of the world would unfold (great documentary if you haven’t watched already).

People

Before the Pandemic, I talked to people quite often. Some of those people were vegan and thus brought enlightenment of what could be. I think I am now more curious to try tofu than I have ever been before. My brother eats it and I have had it in miso soup, so I’m wondering if it could remove some of the urgency to eat meat. I would have to run the numbers but the little research I’ve done has shown being vegan to be healthier than strictly meat diets as red meats can be linked to some cancers.

The Cows

In my old age, I’ve grown bitter towards the cows. Where once I would run around merrily thinking milk had given me super powers, I now only see evil. Cows produce methane and they are killing us. Your McDouble may taste good, but at what cost? At least chickens are still our friends, right? The future will hopefully shift towards smaller animals with less of a carbon footprint and I will put my faith in chicken. Goodbye steak. In college, I took quite a few sustainability courses from Sustainability 101 to Environmental Economics. In Sustainability 101, we went into great detail concerning factory farms and the current demand for food. That stuck and while it has been many years later, I do truly think we need to eliminate cattle factory farms. Smaller farms might work but honestly I think it is better to shift the societal mindset of a mostly vegan diet with the occasional meat.

Community Gardens

In High School, I was a part of Students for Environmental Action (S.E.A.). I would collect cans around the school to help fund the club and we would meet every week to discuss environmental topics. A decade later and most of those issues haven’t changed, they’ve only grown more concerning. As part of S.E.A, we created a community garden out our High School. We grew carrots, beets, tomatoes, and many other veggies as well as fruit. I would bring food home and the rest would get donated to our local feedback. That was a more wholesome point in my life and I love the idea of gardening. Going vegan could be the chance to really get joy from what I eat, rather than simple consuming. There is more satisfaction in cooking something you grew.

What would it Look like?

For me, it would be a casual affair. My main driving factor in my decisions is my health. I want to have energy and not feel like, pardon my French, shit. All our food nowadays is designed to kill us. You drink a bottle of Coke, it tastes great. You get Diabetes from drinking too much Coke? Not so great. A bag of chips is filled to the brim with salt and eating meat everyday is not all that healthy. If you eat fish more than you eat meat, then we are talking. As I do more research into the subject the more excited I get, which typically does not happen with food. So for me, it is about a sustainable balance. I will actively try to eat less burgers and steak as I do not want to support industries that have grown in excess. If I do eat meat or cook, I will try more chicken dishes. The economics make sense and who knows, when Sustainability month roles around next year, I might just have something to talk about for my journey.


And that’s it for this article! With Sustainability Month, I’ve finally achieved a level of satisfaction with the blog that has pushed it beyond simply writing poetry, short stories, and the occasional article. In truth, I looked up the term and the diet I’m looking at is more a pesce-pollotarian diet than vegan. Fish, chicken, and veggies. Thanks for reading!

Goodbye Social Media: Mental Health Awareness Month 2021

This year, Mental Health Awareness Month is planned. The topics I have picked in advance and am gradually adding to over the course of months. With this more organized approach to my series, it’s the perfect opportunity to gradually document my social media habits as I begin to shed them.

As of now, I’m about a week into uninstalling Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and Hinge on my phone. On my Computer, I have unbookmarked the social media sites; if I want to hop on Facebook, I manually have to type the URL. I have always considered myself not to be an avid user of social media. I post a little but not a lot. The other night that changed. As I was scrolling through my dystopian doomsfeed I realized that I was miserable. I derive no joy from Instagram. Most posts are meaningless and add no value to my life whatsoever. I have friends who post a story a minute and others who have lost sight of the silver lining. At best, people are posting about food or doing another selfie. At. Best. In this brief moment I realized that we are living in a dystopia and that all hopes for a utopian information age have all but been lost. Then I looked at Facebook. For every post I saw, I would see a targeted ad. And Twitter? Literal Hell. Negativity is unavoidable and a platform based solely on growth and engagement? Disgusting. Hinge? More endless scrolling in what would ultimately be a relationship death spiral. Match, get bored, match again with the 1% chance I get lucky. The very principle of dating apps diminishes the premise of a relationship itself.

So here I am, a couple weeks in and I feel better. I still log on to Facebook and Twitter but not obsessively. Youtube has become more slightly frustrating as I’m noticing the recommended section is solely designed to influence behavior. If Youtube removed the entire right half of its site, I’d be perfectly ok with that.

LinkedIn

Since 2017, after graduation, Linkedin has become the bane of my existence. Habits Facebook and Instagram instilled carried over to my everyday. I scroll, I like, and am told that it should one day have a payoff. And it doesn’t; Linkedin is a showcase of the superficial, a shrine to those who are lucky. It glorifies an unrealistic percentage of people and even then it frowns upon whenever grit is shown. My recommendations are now for Call Center work and systems that I assume were meant to help, have become my literal Hell. Our Social Media lives have become an episode of Black Mirror.

The Mental Drain

It’s all been exhausting. That is the best word I can use to describe my experience other than soul sucking. Social Media has broken people. We’ve been made to believe that it is the world and since we cannot tangibly see those who have turned away, the lie is easy to swallow. Even with all my other mental health habits well established, Social Media I never saw as posing a threat to my overall well being. I thought I could control it and I was wrong. I thought I was smart enough to keep a fine line between reality and fiction. I was wrong.

A Couple Months Now…

About a month into my social media cleanse, something bizarre began to happen; sites that never emailed me before began to “check in”, to let me know “all that I was missing”. That was Instagram. Facebook? Where it once told me if someone was having a birthday, I have wrought its fury and now receive email notifications mentioning individual actions my friends have taken. In this dystopian hellscape of a world, I know it is only a matter of time before its probing yields success. The emails have gone largely ignored other than mere curiosity and now horror as I watch the information age turn against me as I ignore it data.

Every Other Ad

As my language skills progress, the algorithms become confused. I know this because I get ads in German, Spanish, and now the occasional French. What was initial excitement has now devolved into questions that I’m not really liking the answers to. I’ve been giving information freely to Big Tech all throughout my 20’s thinking overall the benefit outweighs the cost. It took a Pandemic but I finally see the value in privacy albeit a little too late. There’s enough data to be on the cusp of dictating my behavior and that scares me. I worked at a Call Center? Here are some Call Center jobs I think you’d “enjoy”. Here’s a book, here’s what your friends are doing, and the list goes on.

Dating Apps: When Hinge turns into Fringe

If Hell exists on Earth, surely it exists in the form of our ever connected age. Dating, has become a matter of quantity over quality. The sacred has become a mad dash for people to be coupled and as I’ve found, strictly virtual dating is opt for failure. I’ve longed for a meet-cute and a chance to hold on to a moment of love that is more than a fleeting, long lost grab at the wind.

I have no solution

As will no doubt be a theme with this month, I have no easy solution to the problems I now find myself facing. Will I cave and reinstall dating apps? Perhaps. Will Facebook and Instagram manipulate my habits enough to shift what is now strictly a computer only affair to a once-again obsession I never knew I had? Perhaps. Will Twitter continue to be the societal destabilizer it has always been? Most likely. There is no avoiding the information age, that much I am certain. And it may become impossible to live with, if we are not already there. So all I can do now is try to disconnect while I still can and hope others are doing the same, that people are rejecting the notion that every moment must be digitized and that it is ok to exist in your own bubble, even preferred. And for the love of God, have the actions to back it up. Words are cheap, actions are not; in an age of little action and many words, wouldn’t it be nice to plant your feet firmly in the ground?

27th year: A Poem by Mike Cole

The hand struck midnight and the cycle began anew.

Once twenty-six, now twenty-seven.

He watched the hours pass and sleep did not come.

When he awoke, a smile came to his face.

The dreaded year, was not so bad.

With age came wisdom and his world had slowed.

As long as he wasn’t thirty, he still had time.


Yesterday was my Birthday! As such, I thought it’d be fun to write a poem to capture the moment. Despite the Pandemic, my birthday was quite enjoyable. I actually ended up playing Mario Kart until 5am! For the last couple years, I have gone out and celebrated with friends so this year was actually quite nice as I could just play Animal Crossing and Pokemon (and Mario Kart) all day long. I am officially 27 and am trying to live out the remainder of my twenties as best I can. Cheers to another year of life!

September 2020 update: As the leaves turn

It is officially September, my favorite time of the year! Towards the end of August, nights start to become colder and the leaves begin to rustle, ushering in the month of September. September enjoys a mix of Summer and Autumn and represents a fresh start to the year. Many enjoy Spring, many enjoy Summer, I enjoy the Autumn months. September through November, there could not be a better time. It is also the month I was born, which means it’s a month for reflection and re-balancing.

What’s in Store?

As it stands, this month is going to be a lot of heavy lifting. The blog saw tremendous growth in April and May with June, July, and August being steady. The new format seems to be working well and I enjoy the update post with one to two posts a month format. Sharing, commenting, and liking have all helped the blog grow. I’ve begun to dive into promoting the blog through social media channels and while it is feasible, it will take a concentrated effort on my part to be successful. The other option would be to enlist the help of a colleague to help promote the blog but at the moment I have yet to hear a response.

Patreon

So far, Patreon is going well! I have a couple supporters now and the extra money helps. The goal is to have most money be generated from Ad revenue on the site and to have Patreon there for those who want to provide extra support. Over time, I will start publishing books and the hope is to use the income to live a life where I can choose whether or not I want to work from 9 to 5.

Medium and Outward expansion

Last month I looked into Medium as a potential outlet for other forms of writing such as business, politics, and social issues. While Medium might work for some, I ultimately decided I don’t think it would work for me. My whole approach to my blog has been building a community that will enjoy whatever I choose to write about and Medium has a focus on writing “one stellar article to end all articles”. Over time, you get funneled one direction or the other as the algorithm decides what articles you see. I also realized that while I enjoy reading the New York Times to stay informed, I don’t particularly enjoy talking about politics. They are good to discuss with friends but to dedicate time to writing about them? Not my cup of tea. So WordPress gets my full, undivided attention.

Linkedin

As for my professional career, that has taken a pause at the moment. In college, I thought Linkedin to be the “end all, be all” but to date it has led to zero full-time positions. Writing business related articles on the platform seemed like a great idea a few months back, but ultimately it is a lot of effort for little payoff. Even posting on Linkedin has become a chore. I’ve shifted my focus to more writing oriented roles but it is extremely difficult in this hyper-competitive world we live in. The issue isn’t doing a job and doing it well, it’s that you need a skill set just to get an interview and most desirable roles don’t even get posted in the first place. As such, most of my focus will be on this blog and looking at growth and engagement, so ultimately my frustrations with Linkedin will be a net positive.

The Month Ahead

We will be ramping up! I’ve decided to keep the update simple; it’s either going to be a poem, short story, or article. Typically the posts depend on my mood, so I can’t say what I want quite yet this month. I also think I’ve found a way to write more gaming related articles in the form of Fan Fiction, a subject I never thought I would write but did extremely well with my Stardew Valley article. My other gaming articles didn’t fair so well but that’s expected when coming into your stride. If I do write a Fan Fiction this month, I’ve been playing around with Animal Crossing and am excited just thinking about the potential. I also have some ideas for Chapter four of “New Horizon” so that might come together by the end of the month. No promises but all in all we’re in good shape.


And that’s a wrap! The update for this month was fairly long and I didn’t quite cover everything I had planned. I’m already thinking ahead to October and a spooky theme. Think Mental Health Awareness month except light-hearted and fun. An article a week focused around ghosts and all that goes bump in the night. I think it’ll provide a nice balance between the more serious Mental Health series and the planned Earth Month series (planned for April, although it might conflict with Poetry month). Thanks for reading and feel free to comment below!