Sustainability Month 2021: The Oregon Wild Fires

If you’ve read the blog, you know there’s been some debate over whether or not I would have time to write articles for a month dedicated to sustainability. According to the research I did, a sustainability month doesn’t exist. There is a month in October which is weirdly limited to higher education and after that there is Earth Day in April. Those are the two I found. Of course April is World Poetry Month and since I write quite a bit of poetry, I opted to forgo a month dedicated to sustainability entirely. But then late at night I realized I could do it any month, so why not July? With my schedule, I can plan ahead and not worry about a mad blitz to write an article the week of.

September 2020

My Birth month and now the month of perpetual fire. Where once Autumn brought a cool breeze, now the winds howl and bring an inferno to set Hell loose on Earth. A decade ago this would have been a wild dream. And as I thought about it more and more, I realized we are living in a world that is in decay. The planet will survive but we will not. The children born after my generation will be worse off then we were to no fault of their own; for them, they will inherit the apocalypse. We are looking at the last generation of human beings and in the twilight of my years, as the sun sets on my life, so too will the sun set one last time for our planet. The year twenty one hundred.

An interesting prospect, no? Our parents have answers for the economy and life yet how does one go about even expressing the devastation that will be wreaked upon our lives? Perpetual war, terrorism, and a global pandemic will pale to what we will see by the end of the century. Imagine a world with an Amazon Rain Forest turned kindling, Coral Reefs as bright as the stars, and Mega Storms the likes we are only now beginning to see.

My first few decades were filled with hope, now more and more I am filled with a sense of impending doom. The forest fires seen in Oregon could have been improper forest management, sure. But a part of me knows that this will not be the last time I see fire of the magnitude I saw.

And do we act?

Throughout my Life, I’ve had the pleasure of watching Documentaries starting all the way back with Planet Earth in 2006. There’s a lot of beauty in our planet and I would’ve loved growing up decades earlier to truly appreciate that beauty. A time when there were few people and growth wasn’t the only mindset. I’ve only ever lived in a time where there have been cities and people are nigh unavoidable. There is always hope but we are walking a fine line between seasteads and “The Road” right now. Forget “Fahrenheit 451”, we’d be lucky to end up in that dystopian reality. I truly believe that if we don’t act within the next decade, it will be like toppling dominoes.

The Fear I Felt

The sky was blackened and clear blue gave way to an orange glow. For a couple weeks I had a taste of the apocalypse and all I could do is watch the fire consume Oregon as it crept towards my doorstep. I never saw the blazing infernos fortunately but I had my things ready in case our alert status changed. High winds the likes I never heard howled throughout the nights and made what was already bad, worse. I thought trees were going to topple and we’d all be blown away. Then, the other night, I heard the winds once more. A “freak” occurrence they called it but I had to wonder if this reality wouldn’t become all too common…


This is the start to my first ever Sustainability discussion. I’ve been looking to weave causes into my blog for a while now and the Wildfires of 2020 seemed like the perfect opportunity to talk about a terror that is still relatively easy to ignore at the moment. I wrote the bulk of the article when the fires were still fresh in my mind and while not all the articles for Sustainability Month will be like this, I thought it important to talk about. It’s a worse case scenario and I’m hopeful that it’ll only ever be a bad dream. Next article I’ll be talking about going vegan, so take a breath and recover if you are sitting agape in horror.

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?