Monday, April 17, 2017

Friday, April 14, 2017

And I'll drink and dance with one hand free, let the world back into me

It happens eventually. You sing along to something stupid on the radio. You eat nachos for breakfast because food is fun again. Music sounds good again, food tastes good again. You start reading again, doing crosswords, using Instagram like pretentious 16-year-olds used to use the high school literary magazine. You might go for a walk or contact another human being on purpose. It no longer all seems like a waste of time.

It's easy to forget depression isn't always sadness -- sometimes depression is nothing.

Friday, February 24, 2017

I've become a crusty old person

Approaching my birthday always makes me introspective. 41 was badbadnotgood. A lot of it happened *to* me, but some of it was *on* me, and I'm self-aware enough to see the difference. I may always be sarcastic and I may never learn to suffer fools gladly, but over the last year I've become sort of generally the saltiest person in the room and that's not who I'm looking to be.

I don't know if I can break the cycle or if I'm permanently changed. Then again, why not both?

Monday, January 09, 2017

Left-right is not the axis that matters anymore

I've been thinking about a meme that's going around. It plots media sources on a liberal-conservative x axis and a sensational-complex y axis.
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By being a picture with words on it on Facebook, this chart itself, ironically, scores on the low side of the y axis, in my opinion. (I am really going to have to stop using phrases like "in my opinion" as we go deeper into the rabbit hole, but tonight is not the night.) However, it raises a point that I can't get out of my head for the last few days: the plight of ill-fittingly complex sources/politicians/people in a "basic AF" world.

This is, arguably, part of my problem with my career, my writing, and my existence in modern America. It's why Jim Leff's Slog, one of my favorite, most insightful personal blogs -- written by someone with a measure of modern online fame, even, (he founded Chowhound) -- has not set the world on fire yet y'all are still sharing HuffPost. (As I was pondering the effect of the complex/analytical/basic/sensational axis on our politics and our world, Leff published a post called "High Impenetrability From My Pointy Pointy Head" which addressed his supposed "readability" based on a scale I had previously never heard of but am now afraid to use on myself. (Ok, I just did it, on the first 4 paragraphs of this post. 11.99 out of 100 to Leff's 8.81. Another piece in the puzzle of why I'm socially awkward and long-term unemployable. Just by writing posts with more than 4 paragraphs in 2017 I am probably toast.)

Now this sounds like "me and my cronies are smarter than you, neener neener" but the inability to tell the difference between intelligence and complexity is something intelligent people also fail at. I've known some people with PhDs who are not what I would call smart, mostly because they are boring. I've taught some kids who can barely read but are fucking deep.

Some of my favorite people to talk to or read when shit is bananas are the big-picture people. The people who, on September 12, were still crying but also wondering about long-term effects on global policy. I try to be a big picture person, though it's also very easy for me to disappear up my own butt. Since our country (and Putin's) elected an Internet troll to the presidency, I've been trying not to full-time panic but to also think about what this means and how we survive and what the planet (if we still have one) will look like in 10, 20, 50 years.

The big-picture people like to say history and politics are a pendulum. We've swung right before, and we always swing back left. (Or, for my Republican friends, we've swung left before, and we always swing back right). But what if the left/right axis isn't the one that matters anymore? Arguably, many voters don't know enough about issues and policy to know left from right. (Side note, this has got to be part of where third parties and none-of-the-above'ers get off saying things like "there's no difference" between Clinton and Trump. Obama vs Romney, yeah, I get it, both centrists, party labels less and less relevant. But a boring neo-liberal warmonger vs...Trump though? Peace, Green Party, I'm OUT. It's 3:47 in the morning and I can already tell this is not going to be a day I am going to be good at seeing everyone's point of view and remembering the words to Kumbaya.)

So here is my prediction for the 2020 (or god forbid 2024) election, again, assuming we live that long and still have a democracy. My four loyal readers who still use RSS feeds (complex!) heard it here first. Our next president after Trump will be left of center on the issues but will also be simplistic, pandering, mediagenic, not as smart as either of us, and possibly as inexperienced and unfit for office as Trump.

Welcome to Idiocracy. I hope you packed a good book.