Social Media For Writers

What is happening to the world? If it wasn’t clear enough before that the tech overlords control our society right along with the media, I hope it’s clear now. I ditched Twitter years ago and have been ditching Facebook on and off when it becomes too much. I end up going back, drawn to that place where I can reach my old high school friends and the family I never see. But I can’t keep it now. I can’t support a corporation that blocks our president. I can’t return to Twitter because they’ve done the same. YouTube? God knows they aren’t any better. And Amazon? What? I have zero interest in joining conservative ghettos like Parler, but I don’t feel like supporting Amazon after they cancelled Parler.

Where does this leave a struggling writer who doesn’t have much of an audience as it is? People have been joking that conservatives should just make their own internet. Okay, well, right along with the continuous process of learning how to write, edit, create print books and ebooks, and then market my books, I now have to learn to be my own silicon valley CEO. That leaves me a little woozy. I might as well go find a vanity press and print up thousands of books and sell them on street corners all over the US. Seriously.

At least I still have WordPress, but I’ve been wondering how to get around the mindset that requires free venues. The reason we’re in this position of having tech overlords controlling our livelihoods, interpreting our reality, and telling us what we can and can’t believe and say is we walked willingly in. All of those instructive fairy tales we heard as a child didn’t leave the impression they should have. We walked right in the witch’s cabin, and now she’s got us trapped and has been fattening us up on her sweets until we’re ready to be consumed. Perhaps you find that an exaggeration. I don’t.


The World Still Turns

My steps toward a writing career made several big steps forward in the months between March and August. I finished my Roswell alien book and sent it off to a small publishing company that was interested. I wrote 70,000 words toward my breakdancing cyberpunk before I had to take a break to put money in the bank and figure out how I was going to continue doing that while homeschooling again. The pandemic has changed things. I took advantage of losing my income while I had the chance, but it was never going to last. Also, my son is not going to be doing online school or attending a private school, where he would sit in one classroom all day wearing a mask. Not. Going. To. Happen.

To be honest, I lost interest in blogging these past few months. My focus was on this present reality, and how to keep functioning. For me that means interacting with friends and family, even if only on Facebook. Yes, Facebook. Which is awful, just not in the same toxic way that Twitter is. It also means keeping a schedule every day of exercise plus walks, household chores, writing and editing. This blog? I don’t know if I’ll get the interest stirring in my soul again. It’s all right, though. The internet is a wasteland of abandoned blogs — many of which were abandoned because the physical world around held more appeal.

It does. It really does. I was finally confirmed in the Catholic church. That was a long road, which ended in a small gathering wearing masks who were blessed with holy oil smelling of cloves and given the eucharist. Afterward, we went to a Mexican restaurant and ate al pastor tacos outside on their “patio” because we weren’t allowed inside. My sponsor gave me a St Patrick’s rosary as a gift, and it’s a tangible representation of what prayer is. This is life: going to mass, eating tacos, and kneeling and praying.

I have to add that my patron saint in Francis de Sales, saint of writers, who wrote apologetics against Calvinism. I find myself doing that a lot. Hence…he is my patron saint. He was also a gentle saint, even in his denouncing of Calvin. I hope to be a little gentler, a little kinder. That’s all for now.


Rioting in New Mexico

New Mexico might have one of the smallest black populations in the United States. While there are a number of reasons for this, the biggest one is almost certainly that the state is composed of another cultural minority, the Spanish, who are not actually a minority here. The state is still largely agricultural, despite that the oil industry has increased economic growth. In short, culturally and economically, the state hasn’t offered much to black people.

That has not stopped the protests that turned into violent riots from coming here. And I couldn’t help but consider the irony inherent in busting out windows and spray-painting businesses, many of which are owned by Hispanics and already hurting from the governor’s shut-down orders. Gosh, it almost reminds me of my book The Minäverse, which I wrote originally in 2014 when I could see the world was going mad and didn’t manage to publish until 2018. Little could I have imagined…oh, yeah, I did actually imagine. Oh, well. It’s too bad I’m so slow at finishing and publishing.

I need to get a little more focused. My latest book, which I started in 2017 or 2018 (honestly don’t remember) has a virus pandemic in it as a major plot device. And aliens. And every conspiracy theory worthy of David Icke or Alex Jones (to be fair, Jones has never gone the direction of aliens, but vaccines et al, sure). I have twenty pages left to edit, and then off it will go to a potential small publisher.

Speaking of rioting in New Mexico, there was one in Roswell yesterday. It wasn’t a riot, to be fair. As far as I know from the live video footage, the protestors remained on the sidewalk outside the courthouse and stayed there with their signs and bullhorn. I even caught a glimpse of a few black people in the crowd, which is a big deal given the local demographics. Also, Roswell is one of the most openly racist places I’ve lived. Apart from older Hispanic folks, I had never really heard much in the way of vocally racist sentiments until I moved here.

Roswell is really weird. That’s why it’s the setting for the book I’m finishing up in the next couple of days.


Back in Business: Frustration and Empathy

When the schools shut down, I immediately started homeschooling my son. My daughter, however, is in high school and it was more convenient to keep her registered in the online version of school. There was only one problem. She doesn’t have a working computer. I’ve been sharing my work laptop with her, doing my editing and writing in the morning and allowing her to use my computer for the afternoons. That’s why my blog has gone silent again. There is always a reason, I’m sorry to say. I prioritize. Oh, and by the way, I hate writing long posts on my phone for the very salient reason that my phone autocorrects and causes errors if I’m not paying attention (I just noticed it had autocorrected “martial” to “marshal” in my previous post. That’s the sort of error that brings me to tears. Okay, maybe not tears, but definitely angst. Words mean things.)

Now school is out for the summer, and I’m allowing myself the luxury of writing a post. Of course, I’m trying to decide whether to use this moment as a way to funnel my frustrations, or to highlight the positives life has thrown at me. It’s a dilemma, isn’t it? I’m frustrated. Isn’t everybody, especially those who live in places where people aren’t getting sick or dying of Covid 19, and yet their governors are still trying to suppress commerce? And then these frustrated people try to take refuge on social media, only to be bullied by self-proclaimed compassionate people who lack empathy for anyone they dislike? This situation is going to breed frustration and desperation. It’s no wonder armed protestors showed up at the Michigan state capitol. Yes, I have compassion for those people.

The thing is — and yes, I’m sorry, the frustration won out this time — people are not cardboard cutouts. Let’s take the famous Karen meme, for example. Have you met a Karen? Most people in customer service have. Being that I’ve worked at numerous cafes over the years, I’ve had to deal with Karens more than I would have wished. But the nice thing about cafes is that they operate like bars. Eventually, the baristas can get most of their regulars to open up about their lives. Do you know what I learned about one famous Karen, years ago? She was mean because she had just lost her job, and her husband lorded over her at home. Her attempt at taking back control in her life might not have been the most ideal or appropriate, but she was certainly not the cardboard cutout the internet wanted her to be. That’s from the perspective of an employee having to deal with an awful customer and realizing the awful customer was an actual human being.

But I also had a friend, for years, who was a Karen. She always got her way. Always. She was frustrating and mean but also incredibly generous and charitable, raising her nephew while caring for her own four kids. She was very active in her tiny hometown church and homeschooled and took all the kids to science and art museums for fieldtrips and supported her husband as he worked his way toward an obscure PhD. In being a Karen, she was simply trying to hold her world together — she was certainly not the internet’s cardboard stereotype of a woman who only cares about consumerism and getting her way. In fact, I went to her house and it was obvious her primary goal wasn’t consumerism. It was a small house with no fancy furniture and (for a time) a broken dishwasher. The family ate off melamine plates the children had made at craft fairs.

Why am I bringing up the most hated cardboard woman in the world today? During this time, in which the dividing lines have been drawn between those who don’t want to get sick with a novel virus and those who are desperate to keep their homes and businesses afloat, I see that even the aforementioned armed male protestors are being likened as “Karens,” as people who only care about their petty consumerism. And I honestly think that’s the image too many people in our nation have of conservatives: shallow people with no moral values, who go on shopping sprees and don’t care about anybody but themselves.

Sure, I could turn the tables a little and claim conservatives create cardboard cutouts (that was amazing alliteration) of liberals they don’t like, as well. Stereotyping and projecting is not isolated to people on the left. The right has their “soyboys” and “screeching feminist harridans.” I shared one of the stock memes of “soyboys” once, asking if there was a reason men like this went around with their mouths hanging open. I was corrected by a friend who knew these men in real life, due to his career in videogame development. “They don’t,” he told me. “They were just joking around when the picture was taken.” From his perspective, they were all decent men with senses of humor, and somehow a picture of them had been turned into a meme. Okay. I accepted the correction. How could I not? Somebody had humanized these men for me. Isn’t it awful that they had to? By the way, if you’re at all curious, you can find the meme with these three men by searching for soyboys; it’ll pop right up. It was even used as the lead image in a Return of Kings post titled “16 Signs That You Are A Weak Beta Male.”

Generally, when I try to humanize conservatives to people on the left, they won’t be corrected. They stand to their firm position because, as far as I can tell, their entire ideology is based off fighting against conservatives. There are some exceptions. I cherish those exceptions. I’m just surprised at how few and far between they are. I think of empathy as being a high moral ideal to strive for — the highest, really. It saddens me how many intelligent people aren’t willing to give it a try. It feels like a slap in the face when I am willing to try to understand them. However, if I’m going to be consistent with my empathy, despite all my human feelings, I will have to try to understand why some people are locked so hard into an us-vs-them worldview, too. I mean, I’ve already thought this one through. I understand. I simply don’t care for them creating cardboard projections of my friends and family.


Born to Die

Birth is a sure sign of death, unless you are Elijah and get carried away on a chariot. Even Elijah passed from this world to the next; he just didn’t do it in the ordinary way. I’ve brought this subject up before because people are famous for striving after a new Eden, where death will not get us and weeds don’t consume our gardens. There is no way to rationally strive after Eden, but we will try anyway.

I’m trying to be understanding of that as we sit at home and let the economy rot over a virus. It’s very frustrating, though. On one hand, I can understand temporarily closing down businesses and gatherings in order to “flatten the curve.” I can see a case for even our civil rights being trampled on for a short time; a couple of weeks ago, Trump said he would leave it up to governors and wouldn’t get involved in state rights. He had the correct attitude. We aren’t under martial law. Rather, we’re under the dictates of our home states. Fine. There will probably be lawsuits after it’s all said and done, and in some cases, I’m sure federal courts will determine that the rules states implemented during this time were draconian and a breech of our rights. But I’m also just as sure not all of the lawsuits will be successful. Of course, it’s unconstitutional for any level of government to shut down churches and gun stores (etc.) — whether it is constitutional to do so short-term during a pandemic is another question entirely. I will hesitantly say it probably is, and who am I to question the paradigm of all of us “doing our part.”

Sure, I’ve been riding along doing just that — my part and staying home unless I have to go to the grocery store. It’s not easy to do, and I have to maintain a certain stasis of faith in order to not view the future as bleak. Yes, I’ve been hit financially, but my entire state will probably have a hard time getting up again after the governor has shut down the vast majority of mom and pop stores, filtering everyone (and all their germs, all at once) through big box stores. And this is the other hand. The rules many governors are instating make no sense. Why is it better for an entire town of 50,000 plus the outlying population to shop at one or two stores only? Why is this virus so bad compared to viruses we’ve been exposed to in the past? For heaven’s sake, I live in an area where the bubonic plague is still endemic. However, this has never stopped anyone from taking their flea-ridden pets on walks where will they will sniff other dogs, or from doing anything, really. Nobody cares that the bubonic plague is here. And they don’t care about all the various flus that have killed thousands of people in the last few years. Why is it that now, with this virus, people are being shamed for being potential carriers, when healthy people with strong immune systems have always been potential carriers?

The thing is I don’t live in New York. Perhaps the media’s story about mass graves and bodies piling up is actually true (somehow I doubt this; their videos and images are constantly being caught out as false). Perhaps this virus really is the plague of all plagues, so deadly that we should hide indoors for months on end, while people lose their businesses and livelihoods. I doubt this very much, too. I’m willing to go along for a short time, as long as people get it through their thick skulls that there is no Eden and there won’t be as long as we’re on this Earth together. In the long run, you can’t prevent healthy people from going outside their homes because they might get your granny sick. It isn’t a rational position in the slightest. Nor is it Christian to extort the Golden Rule to bring this about; if a person does not know they are carrying a disease, they can’t be held responsible for getting another person ill. It’s a position that doesn’t reconcile the basic idea of herd immunity, let alone the philosophical idea of life leading to death.

I admit that I myself am not thinking entirely rationally right now. I’m irritated with all the smugness and prissy little twits breathing their hot air over everyone else. If this virus has done nothing else, at least it’s brought to light all the cockroaches you know you can’t trust, who will snitch on you to the government over a virus. I can’t imagine what these twits would do if we were under more duress. Who knows? People will surprise you. That reminds me…. There was another part of the Jacques Lusseyran book I wanted to write about. Maybe tomorrow.