6 days down

As is customary, I made a silent and half-hearted resolution this year… to blog more and, more importantly, to blog regularly. It’s harder than it sounds.

The main roadblock that I have in keeping up any sort of regular blog is that I doubt myself. No one has less faith in me than I do. I’ll occasionally think to myself a random passing thing that strikes me as being something that I could very easily write about, and I’ll even sit down to do it… then I’ll immediately psych myself out, deciding that I actually don’t have anything to say after all, and that I should probably just play World of Warcraft or something instead.

I’m going to make an attempt to limit the amount that I do that. I’m never going to get better at this unless I actually do it. Self-discipline isn’t exactly what you’d call one of my stronger points! Excuses are just excuses, though, and I’m done with them. I hope. The truth is, I stopped typing for a second a thought about deleting this entire thing. So instead, I’m going to click Publish and let it go. I don’t have to be perfect, I just have to be present.

Starting Over. Again.

I’ve had many blogs in some form or another over the course of the past few years, but one thing has stayed irritatingly constant… the stark white background that represents my canvas, and the blinking cursor sitting atop it that represents my not knowing what I want to say.

Are you ready? Here’s a peek into my thought process.

In the small, quiet hours I can think of so many things I want to say — things that I want to tell the entire world! — or at least things I think the world needs to hear. When the moment comes, and I’m sitting in front of that cold, vast void that I’ve declared my own to fill, I come up empty. During my daily life, I’ll think to myself about how I should write a blog post about egg noodles, or how I should write a blog post about not really understanding why any given thing is the way it is.

What can I say? The world and all it holds are mysteries to me.

I’ve often used a blog as a way to vent, too. I took a sick joy in spewing out flesh-eating diatribes against the everyone and everything that I decided in my own (closed and underused) mind was wrong. A little word of advice that I learned the hard way… just because you don’t agree with it doesn’t mean it’s incorrect. Morals are not binary. It took me more than 30 years to learn that simple lesson, mainly because I’ve been a very judgmental person in the past, which I’m going to blame with a nudge and a wink on being raised a Southern Baptist.

In reality? It was just that I am was scared to death of everything and everyone.
Humans fear what we don’t understand, because… well, we’re hardwired to. The hypothalamus gives us two options when faced with something we don’t get but are sure is going to kill us, and on present day Earth, everything is going to kill something. Take raisins. For us, they’re a great, moderately healthy snack. For dogs, though, they’re poison. For us, yummy dried grapes. For dogs? Yummy kidney failure. Eat this, not that! Oh wait, we’ve been wrong for the past 20 years and you should really be eating that, not this. In the 1940s cigarette ads used doctors to tell you how ridiculously smooth their product was, and that you’d be a damned fool not to smoke. Now we understand a bit more about the fact that cigarettes, much like the air in a heavily populated metropolitan area, will kill you until you are dead, and medical professionals no longer tell you that smoking is the coolest.

You know what this is? A literary leitmotif.

I’m not going to use this blog to complain. I’m not going to use it to talk about things that I don’t like. I am going to use it to talk about things that interest and/or confuse me, which should offer a deep enough well to last for years to come. For now, though, I really just want to thank you for reading. I probably don’t know who you are, but since you’re ready this, I’d certainly like to, especially since you made it this far.

Hi, my name’s Erik. What’s yours?

Why we love social media.

I’ve been thinking about Facebook’s popularity and the entire social media experience in general, trying to figure out what it is that causes us to become legitimately addicted to it. My own journey through the pitfalls of social media has been fraught with… indecision, to put it kindly. I’ve jumped from one thing to another and back again more times that I can count, and my poor wife — who has suffered through my indecision — can attest to it. Wherever it seemed that there might be more people I could connect with, that’s where I went. That, to me, is the essence of social media and why we’re so attached to it

In one way or another, we are all alone.

Social media outlets have made it extremely simple to connect with people from around the world that have similar interests. Maybe you live in a fairly remote area, or maybe you live in a place that doesn’t quite line up with your view of the world. No problem, there are thousands of people online that think exactly like you do, and all you have to do is find them. That’s the lure of it all. The hope for commonality, the promise that we’re not alone in how we feel; that there are others out there just like us. The prospect of finding a group of people who like the same stuff we do and that wants to talk about it. That’s what it’s about, really.

We just want someone to listen to us.

We want someone to read the comments we leave, read the mundane status updates we offer, look at the pictures we take, and watch the videos we record. We want someone to look at all of this stuff that we share, and we want them to appreciate it. We want them to interact with us, even if it’s nothing more than clicking a “like” button. We want these things so we’ll feel like we are in fact not alone, and that people really do notice us. We’re looking for approval. We’re reaching out to the internet in search of validation. We want someone, anyone, to tell us that we’re worth liking.

Well… at least that’s why I do it. 😉

Blogsy?

I’m trying out an iPad app that I just got called Blogsy. So far, I’m not sure what to make of it. I have to admit that I was initially a bit hesitant to try typing… well, much of anything on an iPad. I’ve said numerous times in the past that iPads, while awesome, are for consumption and not creation.

I may have been wrong.

This is going to be a short post, as I’m not really posting about anything, but am really just trying to put this app through its paces. So far, I’m pleasantly surprised. I’m going to try adding a picture from my Flickr account.

It’s very easy to add pictures, but without knowing a little bit of code it seems impossible to type after adding one. You have to flip over to the HTML view and add a div, in case you’re wondering. At any rate, I definitely see myself playing with this more in the future but currently don’t see it being worth the price of admission, which was $4.99 in the app store.

Inspiration… I Have None.

CG depiction of Gollum created by Weta Digital...

GET OUT OF MY HEAD.

I’m up against a wall here, people. I’m cornered and they’re closing in fast. My predicament is this: I’m starting to wonder what exactly it is I have to say.

I’m stumped. I’ve beaten my head against what I can only assume is some bizarre wall made of writer’s block for a few days now. How do some of you seasoned pros handle this? You know, that feeling like anything you write will be stupid, pointless, and/or other derogatory adjectives? That gnawing thing in your head that convinces you everything you’re thinking about writing is a waste of time… and sounds suspiciously like Gollum?

That’s what I feel like I’m up against. How do you more experienced bloggers fight back against that feeling? What is it that keeps you going?

The Social Network(s)

I’ve created an account with almost every social media outlet I can think of, with the obvious exception of Facebook, in what seems to be a never-ending quest for friends. I’ve played around with a few of them, trying to find the ones that suited me the most.

I’ve had quite a love/hate relationship with Tumblr, as many of my earlier posts will show. I still love how easy it is to use, but a few things about it bother me… first, there’s no genuine interaction. Someone can like and reblog a post without any interaction at all with you, the poster. Someone reblogs it from them, someone reblogs it from them, and your content is now a few generations away from you without so much as a word being spoken. Lots of tumblogs are also notorious for stripping away any credentials attached to content and posting it as their own. I don’t much like that.

I’ve also dipped my toe into the water that is Google+ (thanks to an invite from Mr. David Spira) and haven’t really been impressed so far. Google+ is… well, I don’t really know how to describe it. It’s pretty much nothing. It’s a thing that I don’t know what to do with. It’s polished and very Google-looking, and there are all these circles, and… yeah, it’s pretty stupid. I mean, if that’s what’s supposed to take the place of Facebook when it inevitably dies a slow, painful death, then I’m pretty happy with the fact that I don’t feel like I’m missing much.

I briefly considered going with Blogger or Blogspot or whatever in the hell they call it (it seems to change based on where you read it) but ultimately decided to go with WordPress. Back in the day — can I say that without it being ironic? — Blogger/spot was the place to start a blog if you didn’t want to self-host. It’s still a remarkable open platform that gives you far more freedom than WordPress does, but the backend is painful to me. I prefer the WordPress way of setting things up. No code is really allowed, but none is really required, either. Still, many bloggers have been successful with it, so it must be doing something right.

Posterous also makes the list, but barely. I don’t know of a single blog that actually uses Posterous as a platform. Their main claim to fame is the fact that you can publish to Posterous and it will turn around and post everywhere else… Blogger, Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, WordPress, Twitter, etc… pretty much any social media outlet you can think of. The problem with that is that while you’re getting your stuff out to a wider audience, it becomes harder to interact with and know that audience. You’d have to check multiple blogs multiple times a day to keep up with it, and to me that defeats the purpose of having Posterous auto-post to all of those various sites. I’d rather blog in one place and have that be home.

I decided earlier today that I would be abandoning all of these various endeavors and focusing solely on WordPress and Twitter. I think that with those two platforms I can do pretty much anything I have in mind to do as far as blogging and networking.

What services to you use to put yourself out there? What do you like or dislike about the ones you use? Tell me why I’m completely right about everything I’ve said or why I have no clue what I’m talking about!

I’m scared of blogging!

Carnival of Souls

It's a lot like this.

I’m sitting in front of one of the most intimidating things I ever see on my monitor.

A blank page.

It’s my job, as the owner of this blank page, to make it not blank anymore. Fine. The only problem with that is that it paralyzes me with fear. What if no one reads it? Worse yet, what if people do read it… only to tell me how stupid it was? What I have difficulty with is keeping those words on the page. I’ve written hundreds of blog posts over the years, only to choose “cancel” over “submit” when I was done. I simply don’t think that anything I do is good enough or interesting enough to warrant someone seeing or hearing it. The number of times I’ve recorded stuff and deleted it has to be in the thousands now. So I create stuff, and then destroy it before I’ve given anyone the chance to tell me it sucks. Ultimately, I want very desperately to make something. I consider myself to be a creative person; I’m just trying to find the right medium to get that out. Music is one way that I’ve experimented with, and still do… but I can never seem to get out exactly what I hear in my head. I spent years drawing, only to have the same thing happen. It just never looked like it did in my mind’s eye, so I eventually quit trying and moved on. Aside from film-making (which I’m realizing I actually do have an interest in) the only things I have left are cooking and writing. Seeing as how I’m much less likely to burn anything down or accidentally slice my face off by writing, here I am.

Tomorrow I’ll start writing like myself.