This site is 3 weeks old. During that time I had many tiny mini-trials. Nothing dramatic or harder than what you’d face starting a new school or job, but different. They were uncomfortably concentrated in areas that I’ve specifically avoided my whole life. I’ll be 41 in a few months and I’ve never shared my creative writing or drawing with a wider audience than I can count on one carpenter’s hand. I’d guess that I haven’t made more than a dozen posts throughout the entire internet over a score of years. I don’t even have a facebook, twitter or instagram accounts.
Taking steps that removed some of my carefully guarded privacy and exposed me to unwanted contact was difficult. I even thought of creating an online persona to hide behind. A VPN, some junk email accounts, a clever name and I would be free to sling arrows, ensconced in my cocoon of introversion, safe from all but the most determined black hat sleuths. But that seemed like a cop-out. And I can be prone to unnecessarily vicious communication. I wanted the pause being myself online would provide. That personal accountability has saved me from my innate lack of tact countless times in real life.
Writing my first bad review forced me to deal with what I thought were most of my issues. It’s funny how a tiny debate by internet standards (with a few hundred viewers) can feel like you’re Scopes fighting for the good of the nation, your entire future as an internet writer on the line. The game developer I had offended honed in on that exact fear. Despite being in the industry and relying on video game bloggers to compensate for his non-existent indie marketing budget he let me know by email that this site wasn’t a real job whereas he had put in his own savings into the creation of his game. It gave me pause for almost a minute then I got irritated and defended my honor. Having slain that Polish dragon I was caught off guard when yesterday it took me four hours to hit a “submit” button.
See, while I’m not a member of any of the aforementioned social networks, like most office drones, I am a member of one; Linkedin. I had 186 contacts, most of whom knew me in real life. Coworkers, sales reps who tried to sell me things over the years, a guy we fired because he tried to hit a coworker who mocked his (admittedly ratty looking) pickup and karate skills. He’s a motivational speaker now. Hi Dave – don’t Judo chop me. Also Dave, I know Judo and Karate aren’t the same thing, please don’t email me and explain the difference again.
While my initial steps exposed me to a hypothetical audience, “real” people I couldn’t ignore would now know that this is what I’m doing. The fact that it was so hard to do made me face some deep realizations about some shallow aspects of my personality. In my corporate environment, I was the non-conformist. I pushed casual Fridays to the rest of the week, turned casual Fridays into sandals and shorts Fridays and brought my dog to work on human-only days. I thought I was a free spirit, sticking it to “the man” as much as I could while still doing my job well. It masked how much of my self confidence was wrapped up in actually having a corporate job. It was a shield that let me effortlessly defend my life choices.
A video game blogger? I don’t look down on them (us) myself; I’m wired to not look down on anything I enjoy consuming and I think any public expressions that garner a following are inherently worthwhile and difficult. But I couldn’t help imagining what some of those 186 suit-wearing people would think. As a group they were unlikely to consider the year and a half of my life spent making Siegfried truly worthy of wielding Soul Edge so he could resurrect his father Frederick and inadvertently release the Demon Seed and death and destruction across the world as time well spent. “Some sort of mid-life crisis” they would say. A “fantastically ill-advised financial venture?” they would ponder.
And it wasn’t just their reactions I imagined. What of any woman I might try to date? Or future business partner? Having a position that was already pre-programmed into LinkedIn’s list of job titles certainly doesn’t hurt. I thrive on thinking I can predict future unknowns. A sudden change in socioeconomic status on this scale was impossible for me to calculate. In the end I hit that submit button because fuck it.
I have two personal philosophies that help me get over crises of confidence and individuality. The first is a reverse filter. Despite how anxious it might make me feel at times, I let the outside world filter themselves by being myself. It seems obvious but it’s much easier and more rewarding only being friends with people who like you. To only get romantically involved with people who find your company pleasant. Dave, this advice might not apply to you.
The second, and this might surprise people who know me, I follow my feelings. I learned that when in doubt, follow your good feelings (love, excitement, charity) and don’t act on most of your bad ones (jealousy, fear, doubt). This wasn’t an easy philosophy for me to integrate into my personality. I placed too much pride in being rational for “follow your fucking feelings” to be my guiding light. Even typing it now, knowing others will see, makes me feel strange. But if a rational reason helps you consider it, it just seems to be more statistically effective in achieving your life’s goal; assuming that goal is attaining contentment with brief showers of happiness.
Creating this blog is an expression of a bunch of these good emotions. Not creating it or feeling shame about doing so would be rooted in the bad ones. I’m not Catholic but I saw Seven and can recognize some of the deadly sins. So I’m looking forward to the next unexpected surprise this blog springs, assuming its a character test and not someone mailing me a bag of shit as a rebuttal to something I wrote.