End-of-weekend Epiphany

I have to start with an advisory.

THIS ISN’T ABOUT YOU.  IT’S ABOUT ME.

Now that I’ve done the disclaimer, on to the epiphany.

Most of my friendships, I’ve noticed, are based around A Thing.  A job, or a hobby, or something where I show up somewhere regularly and provide a service.  The Thing That I Do.

The problem with that, of course, is that at some point, the Thing That I Do stops getting done.  Circumstances change.  I move on.

This is where the epiphany comes in.  I don’t inspire people.

I’m competent.  I do whatever Thing That I Do well.  But beyond that, I don’t inspire people to care.   So when I stop doing The Thing That I Do, the vast majority of the people I knew from The Thing go away.  Why?  Because I never inspired them to get to know anything about me beyond The Thing.  So once they don’t need me to do The Thing… they no longer need me.

Examples?  I have a bunch.

There’s one person peripherally in my life from the first half of my life (New York).  I wasn’t a Chicago resident long enough to do The Thing for anyone, so no friends from those years.  While I have Facebook connections from AMF, they’re not really friends any longer.  There’s a few from Anthem (thank you).  A couple from my time in wrestling (over a decade).

And then there’s the other place.  It’s a big part of the epiphany.  Let’s leave it at that.  Might ruffle some feathers if I take this too far.

I think I realized this on some level before the fully-realized concept hit me.  I really haven’t connected with anyone at the Current Day Job (they don’t like to be mentioned in blogs) or at Entercom.   I just do My Thing and go home.

Dear Reader, I can hear you now.  “Why didn’t you reach out to them?”  Well here’s the thing.  I did.  And that gets back to the original point.  Sure, I reached out.  Painfully few reached back.  I don’t inspire the kind of loyalty that would make someone think, “hey, I haven’t heard from Rob in a while… how’s he doing?”

And after a while, I get tired of chasing people.   So the friendships, such as they were, fizzle out.

Just to reiterate, if there’s any anger here, it’s at myself.  It’s happened so many times that the only common factor is me.

So while it’s a raw point one last time, at least I’ve learned a lesson.  The epiphany.  There are friends, and there are co-workers, and rarely do the twain meet.

Of course, the answer to my lifelong bachelorhood is also encompassed by this theory.  If I can’t inspire friendship, there’s no chance of inspiring romance.

Sadly, a sliver of self-awareness at 54.5 is not really going to help in the future.  I guess all that’s left is to find a time machine and go fix the past.

Before you think about replying, please ponder two things:

  1. IT’S NOT YOU, IT’S ME.
  2. If you’re one of the exceptions, thank you, and you don’t need to say anything to remind of that.  I know who you are.

As always, I now return you to your favorite Internet meme-fest, already in progress.

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“Social” Media

Social media is killing us all.

Most of all, it’s no longer social.  If you try to post something vaguely “social”, it’s ignored – lost amid all of the clickbait and ranting.  If you repost something interesting, your motives are suspect because of all the clickbait and ranting. And, of course, it’s becoming obvious that there are people who sow nothing but clickbait and ranting.

Our social media publishers have failed us.

In search of the big cash-out, they’ve all sold us to the highest bidder.  We aren’t allowed to see what interests us, we’re allowed to see what the advertisers think interest us.  Thus, the echo chamber.  Once we’ve been sorted, labelled, tagged, and compartmentalized into advertising units, The Algorithm force-feeds us the stuff that keeps us coming back for more. Opposing viewpoints are buried.  Posts that don’t benefit advertisers disappear. And if you’re not willing to pay, you can’t reach most of the people who’ve asked to see your content.

I used to run CSz Richmond’s Facebook page.  When I left, my average posts were hitting 2-3% of the people who’d liked the page.  TWO TO THREE PERCENT.  Take that in.  97-98% of the people who had told Facebook that they wanted to see content from CSzRVA weren’t allowed to.  The Algorithm had better things to do.  Well, better for Facebook’s bottomless greed.

Oh, you may have noticed something there.

I’ll wait.

How many of you didn’t know I left CSz Richmond?  I left three weeks ago.  As an experiment, I made one oblique Facebook reference (and a profile update) and one Instagram post.  I think four people saw them.  I made a post on a private group, and almost everyone in that group responded. That’s OK, I guess, but if Facebook wants to push us into private groups to see content, they’re just making the echo chambers worse.  If social media worked right, you’d have all seen the profile update on Facebook (it’s public).

Then again, when I get single-digit likes on my personal posts, I know nobody’s seeing them, so I guess it’s just The Algorithm at work again.  That’s why I believe that social media isn’t social anymore.

It’s interleaved walled gardens, curated by machines that don’t understand personal relationships (or subtlety), where everyone has a speaker, all pointed at each other, shouting at the top of our lungs to be heard over the din.

There probably is a way to make social media work.

It’s clearly not the current ad-driven cacophony.

For social media to work, it has to be social.  Interactive.  People talking to people.

That means someone who finds a way to coerce people into paying for an ad-free platform where we can jst connect with the people who matter to us may have a chance.

Well, they would, if anyone paid for anything on the Internet.

But that’s another rant.

Speaking of how ad-driven social media has gone wrong, I’m watching YouTube videos while I’m typing this up.  YouTube just interrupted a video with an ad for their Red service that will stop advertising from interrupting my videos.  This is their strategy, by the way.  They want to annoy me into paying. That’s really NOT the idea I’m thinking of… but I guess YouTube has a point. Since nobody will pay for their Internet content willingly, maybe holding it hostage will work.

Nah.  They’ll just lose viewers.  And the geniuses running the place will never figure out why.

Where was I?

Oh, right.  Ad-free with a small cost.  The only social media that won’t exploit our divisions and bury our similarities.

It’ll never happen.

Because, in the end, most of us get something from where we are now – usually the powerful drug that is “MY OPINION IS CORRECT, SEE?”.  Or we’ve given up.

I don’t expect anyone to see this, either.  It doesn’t fit The Algorithm.  But sometimes there’s a certain satisfaction in turning down my speaker and sliding under the radar.

Because, for all of social media’s failings, if someone shouts here, a small noise is made.  Sure, the Internet never notices, but the Internet also never forgets.

It’d be nice to look back on this someday, from a functional social media platform, and know I was wrong.

Maybe I’ll be able to write the followup – “Social media was killing us, but we took it back”.

Bur right now, social media is killing social interaction.  Thus, it’s killing us. Slowly.

And I realize I may be part of the problem.

Also another rant – but I’m a bit tired of trying to reach out with nobody reaching back.

If you got this far, thanks for reading another one of my occasional stream-of-consciousness meanderings.

Now, back to social media so I can have my faith in humanity battered a bit more… see you on the Interwebs.

Ozymandias

This was posted on Facebook on the evening of December 18, after a long string of small reminders… Other than some minor reformatting, it’s unchanged from the original.

This past weekend, while running tech for Disco Lemonade’s holiday show at CAT, I heard Billy-Christopher Maupin sing the song “I Was Here” from “The Glorious Ones” twice. His performance was wonderful, but it was the lyrics of the song that hit me between the eyes…

I say we yearn to leave something that lasts
And be known for what little we’ve done

Yes, we do. But as any number of things over the course of 2017 have reminded me, while we yearn, not all of us succeed.

My life is impermanence. A long, practiced, well-worked study in leaving no traces. I could walk under a bus tomorrow and be forgotten before Christmas.

This is my key to the portal
How I can leave something immortal
Something that time cannot make disappear
Something to say ‘I was here’

I haven’t. I don’t if I even know how. And as I approach official “senior citizen” status next year, I am finally feeling the sting of a life spent trying not to be noticed. At this point, I doubt I can change that.

Hell, Ozymandias at least had a pedestal. I have but sand.

I am glad this is coming right before I head home for Christmas. A week away from the everyday might help clear the mind and sort out the soul. I know things have to change. I don’t know what those things are.

The danger in looking into the abyss is the knowledge nothing is looking back.

The hope is that perhaps there’s one flicker. One small light in the darkness.

That’s what I’m looking for. Here’s hoping I find it. Maybe I can still leave something to say I was here.

Happy Holidays. May your mark be permanent.

Endnote: Comments are turned off.  I don’t want you to feel you have to prove me wrong.  Thanks for understanding.

Virginia Primary Resources 2017

Virginia will decide its candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor tomorrow.  We don’t actually have party membership rules here, so when you go to the polls, just ask for the ballot that interests you more.

Of course, all the VA Democrats who voted for Donald Trump in the June 2016 primary because he looked so beatable are probably reconsidering now, but that’s not the point.

There are 26 House of Delegates primaries around the state – check http://vote.virginia.gov to see if your area has one.   The closest ones to me are a Republican primary in District 72, covering a horseshoe-shaped swath of western Henrico county and a Democratic primary in District 70, crossing Chesterfield, Henrico and Richmond.  Democratic candidates for districts entirely within Henrico were determined by an April caucus.

Each party has several candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor – and here are links to all of them (along with my takeaway from a quick look at each website and any advertising I’ve seen – your mileage may vary):

Governor
https://ballotpedia.org/Virginia_gubernatorial_election,_2017

Republicans

Ed Gillespie – http://www.edforvirginia.com/
Former RNC Chairman, Bob McDonnell’s campaign manager

Corey Stewart – http://www.coreystewart.com/ 
Former Trump state campaign chairman, running on Trump’s coattails

State Sen. Frank Wagner – http://www.frankwagner.us/ 
Virginia Beach/Norfolk Senator, 25 years at the State Capitol

Democrats

Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam – http://ralphnortham.com/
Current Lt. Governor, former State Senator, doctor, running against Trump as much as Perriello

Tom Perriello – http://tomforvirginia.com/ 
Former Congressman, former lawyer in and envoy to West Africa, using Obama news clip in lieu of endorsement, running as “outsider”

Lieutenant Governor
https://ballotpedia.org/Virginia_lieutenant_gubernatorial_election,_2017

Republicans

Del. Glenn Davis – http://davisforlg.com/ 
Two-term Virginia Beach Delegate, former McDonnell aide

State Sen. Bryce Reeves – http://www.brycereeves.com/
Two-term Spotsylvania County Senator, veteran and former police officer

State Sen. Jill Vogel – http://vogelforvirginia.com/
Three-term Northern Virginia Senator, Senate Whip

Democrats

Justin Fairfax – http://www.fairfaxforlg.com/
Former Assistant US Attorney, lost to Mark Herring in 2013 Democratic Attorney General primary

Susan Platt – http://www.susanplattforva.com/
Former Chief of Staff for Sen. Joe Biden, managed Sen. Charles Robb’s 1994 campaign

Gene Rossi – http://www.generossi.com/
Former Assistant US Attorney focused on drug trade