June 2021 Status Update: A Tinkerer’s Guide

It’s June! As we move into the warmer months, I’ll be talking about Sustainability in July and in August I will be taking a month off to relax. This month will be relatively tame with most likely a poem and will be used to plan out my articles for next month.

Mental Health Awareness Month

This year was a pivot away from some of the darker topics. Instead, I’ve opted for the articles to be more story driven in nature and focused on concepts, reminiscent of my older articles when I discussed business terminology in the context of my life. I’ve written some great articles on my personal life and personal strife but it’s time for a change. I scrapped a couple drafts this month in favor of talking about social media, meditation, and anxiety. Anxiety I enjoyed writing about and I’d like to keep it that way. I’m comfortable talking about my fathers alcoholism but that had a time and place. I was able to make sense of his world and any more on the subject would be to dwell; a road I don’t feel inclined to walk down. I had a draft for an article talking about the passing of my father but ultimately left it unpublished and unfinished. I thought writing about his death might reveal some hidden knowledge much as writing about his alcoholism helped me come to terms with my reality, but it didn’t. The fact of the matter is death is death and I was with him in the end. In the end, I chose love over bitterness. If I do bring it up, it’ll be here or there but I have a strange sense of peace with the whole situation, a peace I didn’t have a year ago. The toughest aspect has been an underlying exhaustion which could be symptomatic of mild depression; understandable given the trauma I’ve endured. I wrote a poem at the end of April and that felt more a fitting send off then the cold calculus of an article.

Special Series and other Joys

I’ll be making a slight adjustment to my series; instead of a post a week, I’ll be doing three for a given month. Four a month was an arbitrary number, based solely on the fact that I thought it’d be cool to write every week of a month. Three a month is more manageable and gives me more time to work should I have to re-edit an entire article (which happens more often then you’d think). I might make other changes as I continue to write special series but for now I’m happy with making this small adjustment. I’ve started initial work on creating a podcast and while nothing may come of it, I’m in the process of drafting the script for my first episode. I have no idea what I’m doing but I want a hobby where I can actively practice public speaking, much as I’ve done with writing.

Goodbye Social Media

As you may have noticed, the Twitter feed is gone from the blog! I’ve had a lot of time to think about the internet during the Pandemic and I have deemed social media unworthy of my time. Since writing my mental health article, I reinstalled and uninstalled various social media apps; I now have none on my phone. If people need to get in touch, texting is the way to go. I want the blog to reflect this choice and not create stress through a constant feed. The blog is healthy as it is with organic traffic and while I might still use social media sites from to time, I long for the day where I can be free, or at least, for social media to be better. I’ll most likely write about social media more as the years progress, however, I’m looking to make improvements from my mental health article. Mostly, I’ll emphasize the positive benefits of quitting rather than focus on the dystopian nightmare social media is.

Outside of the blog

A career is weighing heavily on my mind. I’ve worked a job but not a career. I’m frustrated that when I invest in an action, there is no payoff. What I mean by this is, for example, my brother is an artist. He can go out and take photos because he thinks something is of interest. He can then take those photos and use those as reference for his work. His hobbies lead to his craft and he gets that satisfying burst of fulfillment. I do not have that luxury at the moment. Writing I enjoy but that’s where the buck ends. In the intangible sense, it’s great, I can craft narratives and work on my communication. Conveying voice in writing is not easy and yet, my writing becomes more distinct the more I write. It’s a fun bit of trivia, a quirk to mention in passing. Yet, with Management as my field of study, it can be a difficult sell. I’m not writing articles as a Manager, Sales Rep, or any numerous fields attributed to Management. And thus, a lack of fulfillment ensues. A framework I’m adopting is I have not quite found a job where I can directly apply what I enjoy doing in my free time. Learning to code feels far from home and while the dots might connect to business, they do not connect easily. Hence, a lack of fulfillment and a wave of misery that follows. The dream is to learn web development as a starting point but often it can feel as though I’m throwing effort into the void. Or it could be simply a dark shadow cast by depression, a lack of meaning brought about by tragedy. Who knows!

But…

The blog is healthy and I’m building it around the future work I’ll eventually do. That means a month off in August, three articles instead of four when writing special series, and a steady stream of status updates that are essentially my newsletter. This is my little piece of the internet and I’m going to hold onto it. No update next month but get ready for articles on sustainability! August off should be nice! That’s all I have and feel free to comment below; I am always open to feedback!


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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?

May Update 2020

Hello Everyone! It has been a crazy last month! From quitting my job to being locked inside, a lot has happened. As of now, my main priority has been to publish my first book. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, this will be nothing new. It’s a compilation of the poetry I’ve written over the years and should total 22 poems in all. I’ve finally gotten all the poems transferred to a google doc and am currently figuring out whether or not I need to go ahead and purchase Microsoft word. Kindle Direct Publishing seems easiest for my first book and from there I will begin to look at other options. I do have plans for a second book and this will be a true to form title. Written not on the blog, but rather entirely new material. It’ll stem from my practice of writing short stories and will either be a compilation of short stories or a novel written from beginning to end. As such, once my first book is published, expect to see some more short stories on this site.

In addition to getting a book published, I have started expanding my social media strategies. I’ve built a good base for content on the site but marketing and promotion have always been a bit of a struggle. I’ve started employing some of my college of business knowledge to help push my content further. Part of that strategy has been to start publishing original content on LinkedIn. If you remember years ago, I used to publish business articles on this site. That eventually turned into self-help and then eventually the content you see today. It’s much more relaxed on this site and I like keeping it that way. That doesn’t mean I don’t cover more serious topics like mental health (I’ll try to get an article out soon for mental health awareness month) but as far as business articles go, I stopped posting them on this site for a reason! LinkedIn over the last couple weeks has been fruitful and has helped promote my writing talent on a professional platform. I’ve fiddled around with the idea of doing a third website such as medium and a long time ago I thought about a sub website (“Mike Cole Gaming” or whatever I was going to call it) but ultimately decided against those alternatives. WordPress has been my home for the last 5 years and it’s been great building this website for over half a decade.

After five years, I finally have an official facebook business page. This has allowed me to promote to my friends and family without me having to use my own personal timeline. If my friends like my content, then they can like the page. Eventually, it’ll house photography commissions and hopefully painting, but for now the Facebook page is just to promote my writing. Why I didn’t have one before, God only knows. My blog took the back burner a bit while the call center sucked out my soul. As of now, I’ll be treating writing as more of a full time job. That is why I’m pushing content on LinkedIn, writing a book, and promoting myself as a freelance writer. I enjoy writing and during a Pandemic is the perfect time to see what it’d be like if I only did this. If I can generate enough revenue, I think I would enjoy doing this every day more than any job I could apply for. Creative hobbies are fun and where my company has failed me, blogging never has.

Eventually, I might open up my Instagram to be public as opposed to private. I’m still mulling over the logistics but for now I’m going to see how it goes with Twitter. I’ll be on Twitter more often, figuring out how to tweet and gain traction. I’ll also be monitoring the audience I attract as the blog continues to expand but all in all I see no issue when we make the jump from one hundred and fifty followers (3 away!) to a couple hundred and then hit the one thousand mark. While I don’t think we’ll hit the one thousand mark by the end of the year, I am optimistic that the site will grow by at least a couple hundred. I check the stats consistently and we’re already on track to surpass last years numbers; for the entirety of 2019. The number of views for April jumped four fold from 2019 to 2020 to illustrate an idea how well the blog is doing. I am truly excited to see what May has in store. If there is any content you’ve been missing, feel free to reach out and let me know. I love writing and if there is content you want, I’d be happy to take it into consideration!


And that’s it! Just wanted to do a quick update on what I’ve been working on. It’s a crazy time but the blog has never been better. I am starting to see growth on the website and we’re set up for a strong year. Every like, follow, and share helps drive traffic to the site as well as bring in ad revenue so I can support myself. As we start to get more and more people joining my Patreon, I’d also like to emphasize that joining Patreon should come with an invitation to join my discord community page. If you don’t receive an invite, let me know. Below is the link to my Ko-Fi and Patreon, so if you feel like supporting me, you can do so!

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As always, thanks for reading and I look forward to this year!