Categories
Emotional Work

Day 269 and Pacing

I’m very defensive of my time. While I work at curtailing reactivity in my emotional growth, it’s still easy for me to feel invaded by obligations to others. Taking video or meeting in person was among my least favorite activities even before the pandemic. That’s one reason I’ve written extensively on how to communicate with me asynchronously. But another deeper reason is my fear of misusing my time. And tempting as it may be to project it onto others, I know that this fear is entirely about me.

I am very fearful of anyone needing things from me. I don’t mean things like money, favors or advice; though it is harder to say no than you’d think. My fear is deeper. I’m afraid friends and family will start to count on me for their emotional needs when I’m still figuring out how to be present for my own. I’ll deliberately put distance between myself and others to avoid feeling needed.

So what does this have to do with pacing? I’m not very good at giving myself enough space to be challenged and recovery. And when every encounter with another person is an emotional challenge, I need to be careful about pacing myself.

Maybe there is some latent autistic spectrum issues or maybe I have more trauma than I can consciously dig up but it’s a rare human that doesn’t make me anxious about the energy required for maintaining my own boundaries. It’s not about other people to be clear. It’s about me and my fears of being emotionally invaded.

As I build up more systems and accommodations to allow me to work effectively I need to figure out better pacing. How do I connect with others without emotional fear while still respecting my needs for down time and rest? Giving myself enough recovery has been an ongoing challenge that I write about extensively. But putting it into writing also serves as a valuable reminder to course correct before a crisis emerges.

Categories
Emotional Work Internet Culture

Day 263 and I’m Baby

One of my friends got me an embroidered “I’m baby” patch with a Moomintroll holding a knife in place of the original Kirby. It’s an elaborate play on the “I’m Baby” meme and was a truly excellent Christmas gift. I’m a fan of the Finnish children’s author Tove Janson who created the Moomin series and also emotionally baby and my friend knows it.

Original “I’m Baby” Kirby meme vs a photo of my Moonin “I’m Baby” embroidered patch

The “I’m baby” meme is generally a play on why someone should be allowed to continue with their behavior or emotions without consequence. It’s a kind of elaborate joke about wishing to dodge responsibility if only for a few minutes. Obviously it’s very popular with Gen Z but it’s really more about wishing to live in a world where it’s even possible to be a baby when life feels overwhelming.

The original meme came out of an emergency but it’s come to be a kind of wishful demand and hope that one can just well be a baby for a bit and have someone else handle it.

Moomintroll is an excellent stand in for Kirby in the meme because in the Finnish cartoons he never has to live without Moomin Mama. Moomintroll is an archetypal baby. The Moomin universe has constant catastrophe (no seriously there are floods and asteroids) but Moomintroll can always count on Moomin Mama. It’s a soothing set of books for children obviously but it’s also just nice that there are parental figures to which one can turn. That’s a fantasy we all have at some point. Especially when shit looks bad.

But being baby also means someone else has to be the adult. The willful insistence on being baby is about giving your power to someone else. Unless you are literally baby (in which case how are you reading this blog) you’ve chosen to put someone else in the position of power. Which is an important lesson for adulthood. You always have the power. Even if you chose to be baby. Especially if you are baby.

So be careful when you say “I’m baby” and act helpless. You gave up your power. And that’s alright. Being helpless can be a totally cool sex thing and it’s great to chose your kink when. But you’ve got to have consent for that shit. Bringing someone else into your fantasy of being baby might be non-consensual. When my friend jokes that I’m baby it’s because he knows I like to give up my power. But alas it’s a fantasy and I can’t go back to being Moomintroll for real. But it’s a nice patch right?

Categories
Aesthetics Internet Culture

Day 260 and A Good Schtick

I admire a well executed gimmick. Being clearly branded has become a necessity in digital life. Living life at a scale larger than your local community turns out to require we communicate who we are for easier communication.

Mediocre marketing people will insist that you find areas you can “own” in planning materials for promotional campaigns. They want you to find a schtick. But you better like what you come up with as you will be forced to repeat your greatest hits ad nauseam.

It’s not that they are wrong. Repetition is pedagogy. Which is a fancy way of saying in order to teach you must repeat your lessons. Humans usually require hearing something a few times before the information will stick. But then it can be very hard to dislodge a piece of information that we’ve become convinced is true. That’s why it’s much harder to change a brand than it is to build one. We get indignant when we feel someone has mislead us with their brand.

That’s why you need to be very sure if you are going to dig into a schtick. The temptation to go full Tucker Carlson or Rachel Maddow can be tempting. It’s seems like it’s an easier path to attention and awareness if you develop a clear point of view. But be warned, if you change it people will get mad at you. If you explore shades of grey you will get called a hypocrite. Nuance is the enemy of clarity. And clarity is required to reach big audiences.

I swear half of cancel culture is just assholes who don’t understand that their friends may see them as whole empathetic humans who are more than their schtick but the masses won’t. And remember you too are a member of the masses and judge others hypocrisy just as harshly as they judge yours. That’s like the basis of all Abrahamic religions. If the golden rule was easy we probably wouldn’t need to attend various worship services regularly.

So if you see someone with a good schtick admire it. But recognize it’s a Faustian bargain. They sanded off some portion of the wholeness of their being in order to be easier to understand. And if they drop some portion of that gimmick in the course of their lives it’s worth showing a little grace to them. You’ll appreciate it when you require the same.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 256 and Helplessness

When I was a child I hated being helped. I was a “Mary quite contrary” type except I wasn’t yet in a profession where that was considered a sign of intelligence. I’d ignore the advice, aid and help of teachers. I preferred to figure things out on my own.

A story that I’m sure will eventually turn apocryphal as I get older involved a horse trainer and needing to be left alone. I was was having trouble with a jump in a group less. My horse kept throwing me and ducking the obstacle. My trainer did his best to give me advice on how to keep my posture and encourage my horse. He kept piling on advice and kept his focus on me. And I kept not making it over the jump.

I probably fucked it up over a dozen times. Eventually my trainer gave up and went to help another pupil. Without the glare of a professional, I finally gathered myself up, held the horse firmly in hand and soared over the jump on the first try.

Holy shit was my trainer pissed. “Julie didn’t need my help at all! The second I turned my head she just handled it herself.” From then on my trainer learned that I’d happily internalize his training but if he kept too close of an eye on my I’d develop a kind of learned helplessness. I’d get worse and not better.

I sometimes wonder if this tendency remains a part of me. I like attention so I’ll accept help if someone is willing to give it to me. The upside to this is I am always learning and questioning. But if I’m not careful I’ll just keep enjoying the benefits of helplessness. But I can’t linger there. Because I know moment I’m left to my own devices I’ll gather up the knowledge and willpower and make it over the jump. But it can be temping to wallow in helplessness.

Categories
Aesthetics

Day 239 and Missing Vanity

I wasn’t much for makeup or clothing as a teenager, but I fell in love with fashion as I got older. I was swayed by the mysteries of style. The power of being dressed precisely for the occasion was not lost on me. I wanted to command the powers of vanity for myself

But as the pandemic set in I cancelled all my beauty box of the month subscriptions and closed my Rent the Runway account. I didn’t need red lipstick or cocktail dresses. When we summered in the Hudson Valley the first summer of the pandemic, I only brought one suitcase of sweatpants and cotton dresses. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was was leaving behind dozens of vanity rituals.

Like many other people, we decided to move closer to family as the pandemic continued. Going from Manhattan to Boulder isn’t exactly conducive to keeping up with appearances either. I found myself buying hiking pants and wool socks. I had no occasion to dress for anyone but myself.

I’m not sure how much I actually miss getting dressed. At least not for myself. Earlier in May before the Delta variant squashed “hot vax” summer for good, some ink was spilled on the mixed emotions of getting dressed for others after so much time in seclusion.

The pandemic seems to have proven that for me aesthetics are all about the dance with others. The joy of communicating one’s taste and preferences to the outside world is more riveting than playing with my look for an audience of one.

But I do miss that dance. Vanity can be a wonderful motivator to connect and communicate with others. I so badly want someone to see my hair. I haven’t heat styled my hair for well over a year. In fact, I haven’t had it cut for nearly 10 months.

My vanity tells me my hair has never looked better. It cascades down to my mid back without a split end in sight. Just waves. It’s fucking princess hair. My vanity whispers that someone surely would notice how beautiful I look. If they noticed how I look then they must always want me to notice them.

I miss the pleasure of seeing beauty in each other. Sharing a compliment and an appreciation for the little vanities we all keep.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 235 and Grief

One of my Twitter mutuals suggested I explore the work of psychiatrist Francis Weller and his work on grief. I spent two hours with his lecture and another hour on the writing and exercises explored in this talk available on YouTube. I found his five gates of grief particularly helpful.

1.Everything that you love, you will lose. 2. Places inside of you that have not known love. 3. Sorrows of the works. 4. What we expected and did not receive. 5 Ancestral grief

I have been exploring my childhood emotions and the unconscious way those experiences still affect me. Using Weller’s gates of grief I see I need to grieve but also understand these patterns and what I gave up as a child so I can see what to let go now as an adult but also understand what gifts it has left me with.

In the framing of the second gate, I felt abandoned and unloved as a child. There were parts of me that were never loved. It was a challenge to get attention. This has left my inner childhood fearful that love is unreliable, attention is fleeting and abandonment is always to be feared.

Francis Weller asked what are these lessons or emotional complexes protecting? Why do I feel this way and what did I gain? At the heart of every experience is a jewel of great price. I was protecting and nurturing the capacity to get my father’s attention.

As a small child I didn’t understand why he didn’t pay attention to me for the things I wanted and I liked. So I found ways to get his attention through the things he liked. I developed the expectation I would be ignored. I wouldn’t be paid attention to unless I made myself appealing. So I learned to cut deals to be paid attention. I learned useful skills this way. A pearl of great price indeed. But I was also giving up the idea I’ll be loved just for being his child.

That all the things I did to change myself to be paid attention to and to be loved never ultimately got me what I needed when I was a small child is a loss I must grieve. I’ll never be able to go back and feel like I was wanted. No change I made fixed it either. I must mourn the second gate.

To leave behind these coping mechanisms or emotional complexes, to grieve them, is to admit that they did not work. I cannot change that I felt I was not wanted or loved. They have nothing to offer me now. I have to grieve the lack of a loved childhood to love myself in adulthood.

But it is not a bad thing. Francis Well shares that the other hand of grief is gratitude. In one hand we hold grief and on the other gratitude is in our other palm. So I recognize I have gratitude that my childhood gave me the skills to see what others want. I see what they are looking to find. I know what others are manifesting. I see what others are building and making and wanting. I learned to see the power and magic of others so I can hold space for them. And I learned how to golf. Useful skills indeed.

I grieve that this was my tool for attention and love as a child. I deserved love and attention just for existing as a child. But I am grateful for what it has given me as well.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 234 and Information Poisoning

Do you ever read a tweet and check the person’s mutuals to make sure you understand the context?

Because I follow a number of extremely different communities with wildly different priors, it’s actually quite a challenge to see if someone is black pilled, red pilled, tankie or neo reactionary.

I consider it crucial to keep a balance of crazies in my timeline lest I accidentally get pilled by one group simply by mere exposure bias.

That’s a good argument for following as diverse a group as possible. A full timeline is one with a thousand biases blooming. This is good for keeping an open mind but it is also a protective technique known as flooding the zone. It is much harder to determine where one’s sensibilities lay if they consider counsel from all.

The downside is that we call people out for following “wrong think” in some corners. The only way to inoculate against that risk is heavily telegraphing that you follow all kinds. Impossible to show purity so to protect from any charges you muddy the waters.

I’ve noticed that progressive tech & red pillers are especially gnarly about policing for thought purity. It is relatively easy to fight back against, but then you have to be committed to seeing ALL zeitgeist which is exhausting.

I had to stop consumption for 48 hours last week. Floating above the discourse generally stokes my creativity. I live on the energy of the zeitgeist. But a few issues (vaccines & Kabul) are so upsetting that I just had to stop and recenter.

I think I have what might be labeled natural immunity to discourse. It doesn’t usually hurt my emotional state. For me, discourse functions more as a barometer of positions I follow to indicate long term movements.

Very rarely does it overcome my long term stakes. When it does it’s usually because I have information poisoning. It doesn’t happen too often. And I can shake it fast. But it’s not easy to cultivate for most people. I think it might be innate. That natural immunity I mentioned. Some people just have a higher tolerance for information toxicity and flow rates. Best to find out what yours is and to sense in others their informational environment as well. It’s edge.

Categories
Emotional Work Internet Culture

Day 222 and OOO

I’m out of the office. I’m OOO. I’m not available. I’m off the grid. I’m on vacation. I’m on leave. I’m out sick. I’m out for family.

Whatever your reasons, the idea of being unavailable, actually being unavailable is increasingly at odds with reality. It’s rude to not be available. People notice if you are on social media dicking around after all. And I’m always fucking off on Twitter. And that means I am default available right?

I have an app that allows people book time with me without the hassle of checking in called Calendly. The theory is you maintain times you are available and you avoid a bunch of back and forth. The reality is I don’t maintain it. Virtually no one ever uses it except a couple close business partners. Because of that lack of integration into my workflow, the app is rarely ever booked unavailable. I don’t really use it or maintain it but a few folks have the link and being polite and nice, they try to use it rather than bother me asking if I’m around. Then it’s a comical back and forth of me explaining that no I again forgot to alert the app I wasn’t available. Again. Exactly the sort of interaction the app is supposed to help you avoid. It’s fucking embarrassing and it’s happened a half dozen times.

This happened again this week when I had explicitly intended to take off all of it as I’m recovering from a medical procedure. My brain is a bit foggy and I forgot to ask my husband, who more often than not is forced into managing my ineptitude with logistics, to make sure the damn app knew I wasn’t available. He’s got an elaborate system of multiple calendar applications that all talk to each other and sync up and if I just put “OOO” into one of them then all the apps would know. I’m too stupid to actually manage any of it. I figured eventually I’d hire an administrative assistant I deal with it when my schedule became more complex. But it isn’t that complex yet and I didn’t think to block the calendar after my procedure. Which makes me feel like an idiot. Why is it so hard for me to manage a damn calendar?

And such is my emotional block with being unavailable that I am literally writing a post about it rather than simply deleting the app entirely and texting my friend and partner back that I’ve fucked up again and the app was incorrect. Again.

Maybe it’s because I really want to be the kind of person who is available. That I’m the sort of person who is consistent and has routines that can be relied upon and thus has calendars which reflect the reality of my availability. That I am the kind of person who manages their application layer, personal data and thus has promptly corrected for any changes that may have occurred to my routines and seen to it that it percolates into the operating system of my life. Maybe this is why I’m obsessed with manners and class this week. It’s just a Freudian unconscious embarrassment that I’m bad at manage a calendar.

Alas it doesn’t really matter. I’m not the sort of person with a calendar. I’m the sort of person who will write a thousand words about the culture of availability, the way we mediate we our time and attention with technical applications, and my own emotional relationship to the acronym “OOO” rather than text back “actually I’m out this week!”

I’m counting on this being amusing rather than irritating in this particular instance as despite it seeming like I’m around and available, I’m actually extremely out this week and depending on my recover the next two. I hope it will be funny when I tag them on Twitter and share this post. Because it’s actually extremely embarrassing for me.

Categories
Finance Internet Culture Media Politics

Day 219 and Crypto’s Publicist

Most industries have interest groups. Publicists, lobbyists, and spokespeople weave together stories, talking points and preferred legislative agendas. Anyone or any group is free to discuss why their preferred business or issue is worthwhile and convince others of their view. We have a marketplace of ideas. Sure, not all interests are good but anyone is free to promote what they believe in. So why aren’t we doing anything for our cause in the crypto community? I say it’s time crypto had a publicist.

Not every country allows for this. The crypto community has an obligation to recognize that when we fight for our own interests it isn’t just we who benefit. The entire world benefits from open, decentralized and permission-less systems. What we do benefits everyone who wants to live in a freer world. It’s time crypto had our own activist DAO to protect and promote our values.

I am proposing the formation of an activist DAO promoting the use of crypto. Our goal is to advocate for positive popular culture narratives about crypto. We vote on our issues, stories and key initiatives through the DAO’s native governance tokens. The DAO will hire publicists and communication professionals to promote our stories in mainstream media along with commissioning content meme-ers and creators to share opinions. Policy is crucial but public perception is faster and pushes the right policy down the right.

As place holder I’ve purchased CryptoCommsCoalition.org. The Crypto Communication Coalition. I am working on a shared collaboration doc in Google Sheets to collect input, feedback, and priorities. Anyone who is interested can participate in our effort. Email me Julie @ crypto comms coalition dot org or DM me on Twitter.

We need DAO creation specialists, legal experts, memers, streamers, Reddidters, governance folks, publicists, lobbyists, fundraisers and a thousand other specialists I haven’t thought of yet. This won’t be easy but it’s an eating our own dog food moment for crypto. We can use our own tools to advocate in a participatory, transparent and open way for our own interests. If banking and big oil can can afford publicists then so can we. gmi.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 212 and Notes for A Unified Theory of Shitposting

Yesterday I was fucking around on Twitter, as I am prone to doing. I made a barely sit-com worthy joke about divorced guy energy.

You ever notice how women thrive in the aftermath of divorce but men implode? Why is that?

My husband Alex replied with a searing burn “don’t worry, I’ll be fine” response and we were off to the races with all our mutuals dunking. I was howling with laughter. The two of us were trading zingers and watching the DMs roll in from friends.

Obviously the undercurrent of any thread on social media got dark very fast. So quickly I ended up putting out resources for men who were struggling in the replies. The amount of pain on display was enough to make you want to donate to the first domestic abuse charity I could find.

So why is it that I can shitpost about a topic and come away unscathed, indeed it was a fun and entertaining night for both myself and Alex, but others melted down? I think it might be about class and social signaling. It takes a lot of social capital to shitpost. And those that shitpost on the most socially contentious topics are demonstrating their social capacity to discuss whatever they want without consequences. I can shitpost because I’ve got enough social capital to do so.

One theory I’ve got is that shitposting is a backlash to Ted Talks, super serious reverential coverage in glossy business magazines, and the proliferation of HBS style “business” books. We’ve had an saturation in performative professionalism.

Once it became unclear that every self seriousness biography or magazine puff piece was placed by professionals to make their clients look like geniuses (visible effort undermines certain kinds of status) the savvy social seeker knew they needed a more authentic way to telegraph in-group power. The next logical step was demonstrating that you were so smart, so powerful and so connected you didn’t even need to demonstrate it. Hence the shitpost.

The weirdest part of “shitposting” being an actual status symbol in venture capital is that a couple of billionaires are going to see me and Alex making jokes about divorced guy energy and this will only increase our status. Which is ludicrous on its face ans yet absolutely true.

This isn’t even a flex on my part (though it obviously is a flex) as it is now accepted that having a following for saying whatever you like gives you a leg up in startups. A friend likened it to “dressing down” or the practice of wearing causal clothing even in formal settings. It shows you are so powerful and wealthy you don’t need to give a fuck about manners. Shitposting on Twitter is like wearing ripped jeans at the country club.

I want to explore this topic in more depth so this post is just some sketch notes. But I wanted to get it down and organized so I hope it’s alright to have some half baked ideas. It’s my blog so I figure it’s fine b