True Blood – the best worst thing ever.

Way back in the far away year 2008 Alan Ball worked to adapt Charlene Harris’ Southern Vampire Mystery series of books into a TV show. That sort of thing happens all the time. What doesn’t happen all the time is the start of one of the most interesting (for certain special values) and best (for other certain special values) TV shows ever created. So let us discuss the magic that is True Blood.

The first season of True Blood floundered like many shows do. They had a premise, and some good ideas taken from the novels along with their own takes on character and plot and they charged fully ahead. But it didn’t gel yet. It was just sort of there. Blood, gore, boobs and vampires. That was what it had. But what it would have was much stranger indeed.
Once season two came along the show had a very subtle shift. Somewhere between seasons one and two they creators realized that they were making the Worst Show Ever. Now, you need to understand what I mean by that. There are so many shows that are worse. But in this case Worst Show Ever isn’t a testament to the quality but rather the special mix of cheese, goofiness and loose plot along with shifting characters that makes a show immensely watchable while also being something that you sort of don’t want to watch. It’s compelling, funny, TV that manages to be trashy TV as much as it is fantastic TV. That sort of strange brew doesn’t happen often.

In fact, over the years, many shows would try to duplicate the mix and none of them would get it right – ending only with shows that are unwatchable and often dull.

True Blood reigned for a few years. They were unafraid to go anywhere and, rather quickly as these things go, they did the impossible. They became The Shark. We accuse shows of “Jumping the shark” all the time, meaning the time a show uses a gimmick that backfires for them and the quality of the show drops as a result. It is, almost always, an unrecoverable problem.

See, if you remove the problem to course correct it is obvious and your show is tainted and judged harsher for it. If you hold steady the problem will continue to drag you down. There’s no solution, outside of a very few edge cases. Jumping the shark, truly jumping it, makes a sound you can hear deep in your bones. It is the sound of death.

True Blood, on the other hand, became The Shark. It couldn’t ever jump the shark because it was, in and of itself, the shark they would have to jump.

Let me try to explain how that’s even possible:

True Blood became all gimmick. The boobs, the blood, the ridiculous plots – they were all gimmicks to be deployed. The way Eric, Pam or Lafayette spoke, sounding almost as if they came from a different writer’s room was a gimmick. The show became a battling beast of full on absurdity without loosing its watchablility and in doing so became the very thing it would take to jump over.
There was, they realized, no way to fail. They couldn’t jump themselves, after all, so all roads were open. You can see this most clearly in its greatest form, season 4’s next to last episode in which (and please understand this is literally what happens) the vampires need to get into a store where their friends are being held hostage by a witch. Except there is magic around it to prevent them from going in.

And so the vampires bring out a bazooka and try that.
Yes. A bazooka. Because on True Blood, the vampires will try large munitions against magic, because why wouldn’t you try that?

This is what I mean by the show became The Shark. It was a force of nature. Unstoppable. So the question became where do we go from here? How could the show continue to top itself, and continue to do what nothing else was, or could, do?

Season five tried out a new approach – let’s slow way down and leave a lot of what made the show work behind. When all else fails, try to through the engines in reverse while moving at speed. It won’t be pretty but it sure will be different!

But it doesn’t make great TV. The show hadn’t jumped the shark but it worked to figure out what made its own body tick by breaking its own legs. Not quite happy with that the show went on to season six to try something else different.

And this is where everything gets interesting. Season six was about as much of a mess as season five but in yet a different way. And that’s fine and they were still exploring the mechanics of their body destructively. But then at the end of season six we learned season seven would be the last.

And it is in one scene in season six we find out that they are planning the most daring thing of all.

Thirty minutes into the final episode of the season two key events happen: Eric catches fire while nude, and we see his penis. Understand both parts of that are critically important. Since season one Eric had been the standard of the show. He was what every vampire wanted to be: In Eric Northman we had the culmination of the shows sex drive, its love of gore and vampires and its sense of humor. Eric was the key to the show while Bill was the Man Who Would Be King – something else seasons ix went out of its way to prove as Bill becomes the worst God you could imagine. He’s never going to be as great as Eric, and the show needs you to know this.

Thus we come to Eric’s Flaming Penis. As the show’s standard for sex and horror – seeing Eric’s penis on screen was a signal. It was the payoff to six years of showing us all the boobs and butts we could want but holding back this one specific thing. And in showing us, they also set it on fire. Literally.

The symbolism is impossible to ignore – here is what you want, now watch it burn. It was a declaration of where the show would go and what it would try to do.

The show then jumps forward six months. Consider that in season four they jumped forward almost a full year and didn’t change even half as much as they did in this six month jump and you realize they key here.

The word jump.
Season seven was True Blood’s last and they would carefully design it to do the impossible, to jump the shark. To jump themselves.

The season itself is a mix of flashbacks to before the show started along with taking place six months after the events of season six. It is both backwards and forwards. The only way to jump yourself is to twist as hard as possible and loop around. The show tries this within its own structure but it doesn’t stop there.

Because they saw that the only way to jump the shark, for this show, was to ignore their own characters like never before. The use a gimmick. To make that gimmick itself ignoring the characters while dwelling on their pasts. It showed us that even while they would happily remember the smallest detail of plots past, they refused to pay attention to the characters they built. That’s not a mistake a show that has been this oddly careful makes. This was on purpose.

The number of character moments in season seven that flat out make no sense is staggering. It’s events for the sake of having events. Its plots that sound like maybe they might work on paper being brought to life as wobbly as possible. It is, in essence, the shitiest form of fanfic.

There’s your gimmick. There’s your jump.

They pulled off the one trick they hadn’t done yet on the show – they ruined their own show carefully and deliberately in ways you could watch it happen and understand they were having fun doing it. Their last magic trick was their greatest – setting fire to the stage they stood on, and laughing as they didn’t burn, only kept walking forward.

And the end of the show? After characters get married who showed good reason in the past why they shouldn’t, after rebirths and logic breaks and even Eric (who lives and they don’t care about how or why because that doesn’t matter when you’re pulling this trick) reduced to useless right up until the end – they pull one final trick.

The end of the show has four key events –

Bill dies – finally accepting that he needs to, because he is not Eric.

Eric and Pam sell out – they now have money and prestige but are still shown to be very much like they were in the flashbacks for the season, a place they hate deeply and feel trapped by.

Sookie is pregnant – we never see the guy. Because the show knows it doesn’t matter. It never mattered.

Everyone else has Thanksgiving together peacefully – and this is the point. Before Bill came to Bon Temps Sookie’s life was fine (she was unliked by lots and stressed but nothing even close to where it would go). After he shows up her life becomes one giant clusterfuck after another, the world almost ends several times and everything goes to shit for everyone. Inside four years after he dies everyone else is happy and living a full life and building family.

And that is, in the end, the message of True Blood: Bill was really the fucking problem all along. They spent years quietly telling us this and in the end felt the need to make their final, most audacious triumph of all – burning down their own house as messily as possible – just to show us that the guy who steps into the lives of our characters way back in episode one is the source of everything horrible, and thank god that’s over with.
And yet never forget, as the character who enters in episode one and has to meet these people Bill was our POV character all those years ago. Bill was us.

Bill. Was. Us. All. Along.

So yeah. True Blood was the Worst Show Ever in the best way possible. Even as it destroyed itself, it did so purposefully and wonderfully, that shit was textbook “What not to do” week after week as they came hurtling to a stop. And the in the end we’re left with a lingering sense that their message might really have been: We, the viewer, are why these poor guys can’t have nice things. While we watch their lives are shit. Now that we’re turning away for good, they can all be happy again.

So thanks, True Blood, for knowing when to hate, when to love, and most of all, when to be Kafka-esque in your absurdity so that we can spend two thousand words laughing about it.

Dream spaces

I dunno. Maybe everyone does this. I honestly don’t know. But since I was a kid I dream in reoccurring places. Not real places, mind you. But buildings, homes, apartments, structures – that are the same as they were the night and week before.

I will then have dreams in that space generally until I move, or am about to move. When I am about to move I end up in a different space that lasts until I have moved. After that the space tends to stay the same.

Every now and then it will radically shift and for a few years I’ll be in a new space but they are pretty stable. Stable to the point I can map them out. Each space has an internal consistency that holds and dreams take place in them. Ordinary dreams – phone calls, neighbors, whatever it is. Just small, normal dreams where I am living a similar, but slightly different, live in a place that isn’t anywhere I’ve ever lived or seen.

When I was younger there was a small window where I became convinced that when I dreamed I switched and was able to see one of my parallel dimension lives. Which means sometimes when I’m awake they can see through my eyes.

Where I live is no more fantastic than the dream-buildings. Though they often have tunnels and wide spaces that I never get to enjoy.

These spaces are in places without name. Like I said there are neighbors – I get to know them over the course of years of dreams with them, but they are never people I have met or see outside of the dreams and they don’t shift location.

The dreams all have continuity, too, besides just spatially. If in one dream, well like last night – one of my neighbors and I talked as he walked his bike through the underground tunnel that connected the neighborhood through our basements. And he and I discussed bolting down a nick bike rack in an off-shoot hallway of the tunnel.

Sometime this month I am sure we will do that, or will have done it. It’ll be there, or there will be a reason for it not to be there.

I like to think everyone has this. I dunno.

Goat Rider

A pitch for something that will never happen but I want to share it anyway. I mean if someone wants to pay me to write this for Marvel, I 100% will…

Beatrice Albinson saw something she shouldn’t have. The robots came for her, at night. They didn’t want her to tell anyone. No one could know about The Plan. So Beatrice ran. She hid. She ran some more. Beatrice hid in the dark spaces. She ran and hid and hid and ran until there was no where else she could think of. The robots were tireless, but Beatrice was only human.

And then she came across the stable. There shouldn’t have been a stable near the West Side Highway. Beatrice had always thought it was a bagel shop, truth be told. But no, a stable for sure. Big door, smelled of animal, bits of hay strewn about outside. Big old A logo on the door. A didn’t stand for stable, Beatrice was mighty sure about that.

Inside the stable (hey it seemed a good dark place to hide and horses didn’t bother Beatrice), she found a chariot. Big thing: old wood, carvings covering it all around, gold inlay and silver runs filling in the spaces. Nearby the chariot she spotted the horses. Wait. No. Those were horse-sized but they were giant goats. Goats with glowing red eyes and flaming lashes. Goats who didn’t want to be disturbed.

The robots found her, of course. They’re robots, they have an app for that. They came in shooting. Robots and horses (they assumed the goats were horses as well, because come on, who wouldn’t?) never did get along.

Turns out robots and giant goats get along rather less well. The goats shrugged off the lasers and small arms fire, breathing fire that melted the robots into slag. Beatrice wasn’t as lucky. She lay on the floor, hay soaking up her blood, as the fire raged around her. It covered her, danced over her body, but did not consume her form.

Instead she found herself feeling better. She sat up, ran a hand through her hair and noticed that her hand came back covered in fire. That, she told herself, was new. Abnormally calm or in the full flush of shock, either way, Beatrice stood and looked around.

She knew, as she walked, that the chariot was hers. For a time, at least. As her feet touched it, the wheels burst into flame. A flame that didn’t harm the ancient wood. The goats willing walked over and, in a process Beatrice couldn’t quite figure out, harnessed themselves. As they did their beards and tails burst into raging fire as well, Flames licked up from their hooves. And then they turned, dragging the chariot, and took to the sky leaving fire in their wake.

The Goat Rider was born. The spirit of Vengeance merged with… well, let’s just say that Thor was mighty pissed someone stole his goats. But that’s another tale for another time…

The journalist blame game needs to end.

Ever stopped and thought “Lazy journalists!” and muttered about how they just produce fluff and don’t do the work and don’t cover important things? Yeah. We all have. But the problem is by doing that we are ignoring what is actually going on and blaming the wrong people (most of the time).

I know a bunch of journalists. A large bunch. I’ve worked with many of them, and have for about 20 years now. So I’ve seen this far too up-close. The root of the problem is two-fold:

1) The people in charge of sites/magazines/etc need money. So they push for quick fluffier bits that gets hits and eyeballs. They have a much higher return on investment when looked at across what they pay for them versus what they bring in in ad revenue. That’s simple truth. Journalism should be above such things! I can hear you think it. And I agree! But they aren’t above paying rent, print costs or server costs and staff. Journalists don’t work for free (well some do and they shouldn’t and the ones that don’t should be paid more really but this is not my topic) either.

So if journalism should be above such problems, but Stuff Costs Money how do you fix it? Gov subsidized journalism? That’s a slippery slope of panic and woe. You fix it by reading the second problem!

2) We are the other half of the problem. I’m sorry guys. We are. We click the shitty top 5 lists over the long in depth articles more and more. Now, yes, you’ll rise up and tell me “I do the opposite!” and that’s great. But numbers-wise you don’t, we all don’t. I like to think I do, too. And I try to. But those tiny quick hits, man, they get you. They are designed to get you. And the more we fall for it the more of them they do. The more of them they do the less they will do anything else. We create the problem we lament. We need to recognize that.

I know very few career journalists who are dumb or lazy. Every one I know, in fact, wants to do longer in-depth coverage of events, books, culture and so on. It tears them up to have to gloss over the world. But many of them do it so that they can then have a short at doing a deeper job once in a while. If your site needs 15 posts a day and you do 14 of them in quick hits you can get away with one longer bit that won’t get the big hits. So they sell slices of their soul in hopes of making it back, while knowing it doesn’t work that way. And they KEEP TRYING. Remember that. This isn’t the world they signed up for, either. They didn’t bust ass so they could write top ten lists that pay shit. They wanted to explore and report on the world.

And they stay in it for that rare chance to do so.

The only way to ever change this is to not read the quick hits and drive up hits wildly on the big things. I don’t know how to organize such a thing, or if it is possible. But it is the only way to stop this landslide. I don’t know how to hold back the cliff forever.

But I do know that blaming the people in the trenches, still trying to be Journalists-with-a-capital-J, just causes the landslide to come down faster. Because when you smack the people trying to find a way to sneak you the real goods they start to be even more disheartened. I mean first they get beat up for trying by their bosses, then they get beat up for not magically being able to change the universe by the people they are taking the hits for in the first place. You’d want to give up, too. And when, and as, they do give up – the landslide gets faster.

So please. Stop blaming them off-hand. Yeah there are bad apples. Blame them by name, don’t fire hose and destroy the people trying to fight it.

Wonder Woman: The Movie

A while back I got asked to contribute to an article full of people with ideas of how to do a Wonder Woman movie. The article didn’t happen though so I thought “Well why not just post it here?” so I am. Here’s the Wonder Woman movie I would write:

A Wonder Woman movie should be the simplest thing around. She’s a character who strives for peace, and is also the greatest warrior the world has ever known. Her own internal struggle to reconcile that, and to help all of humanity toward peace, through strength and compassion, is a huge host of interesting information just waiting to be explored. Then you add in Greek mythology, a mythology that not only a number of recent blockbusters have found themselves digging into again, but a mythology that has survived and thrived in the consciousness of the world for thousands of years.

How can this suck, if done with attention and love? It can’t.

How would I do it? Well I’d start by casting Claudia Black, and then add Brad Bird directing. But that’s me. I’d want to open with an older Diana. Not a young woman, but a seasoned warrior. Leaving a U.N. meeting, put some info dump there – Themyscira, Amazons, her job as Ambassador. Then break it up with an attack. A race of aliens, claiming to be the inspiration for the Greek Gods. Here to destroy us all.

Diana must fight back, but also learn the truth. Remember that – Diana searching for truth is a key element. As is her attempt to resolve the conflict peacefully, if at all possible. When it isn’t, then she will strike as hard and fast as needed, but she will give them a chance.

Anyway, she has to go back to Themyscira, touch base with Olympus, all of that, to find out the Aliens are fakers (of course they are) and now Diana must lead the charge of Amazons and Gods and the World Army to save the Earth. This will also solve the crisis from the start of the U.N. and her place in it and so on. It brings the Earth into deeper understanding from a place of mistrust. She has to be crucial to each army, and lead all as much as possible. She is the Over Commander. And while Zeus doesn’t like it, she has the backing of other Gods, the skills and the spine to shut him down and make him fall in line. Same with the Amazons. Her mother is deeply proud, but still chafes under taking orders from her daughter. The World Army leader, Steve Trevor, has his own command and doesn’t want to be seen as weak, but Diana helps show him that it isn’t weak to follow a commander when it is the right choice.
In the end the Aliens are defeated. The Gods and the Amazons have started to reconcile (Though the Amazons worship the Gods they didn’t exactly LIKE them, ya know?) and the World Army accepts Diana, and her people.

You get to show Diana, why she herself is important, what her culture is and how she strives for peace and is also willing to go to war. You can show her stretched too thin and set up sequels where the threat doesn’t have to be bigger – it can now be far more personal (Gods vs. World Army / talks breaking down / Amazon rebellion / Bring in Atlantis! / whatever) and make the world expand, instead of simply raise.

Politically Correct – The Dumbest Term in the World?

You know why people love to toss around the term Politically Correct as a warding sign against ancient magics of hoped for equality? Why any notion of the idea that “Maybe we shouldn’t do this any more” is met with a backhand smack of “Oh, the P.C. Police!” by legions of (primarily) white folk?

Reducing the idea of equality to “Political” correctness distances us from the fact that it is, in fact: Human Equality.

If you blame politics, well everyone hates politics, right? See, this isn’t about equality anymore, it’s about them silly politicians trying to force us to do stuff. That way you get to keep your status quo, not have to think and realize how (often) institutionalized inequality has been furthered by your own actions and everything is safe and calm. For you. you selfish pricks. For you.

Tossing around the term Politically Correct, P.C. Police etc pushes the entire concept of equality into a realm where it is something we are forced to do, and yet also something that is just silly to consider. It marginalizes it and says “This isn’t a real problem, it’s stuff people are making up.”

Which, really, hey, fuck you.

Equality is not a zero sum game. Diversity is not a zero sum game. It does not threaten you, you scared little people, except in your brains which are somehow convinced that equality is totally a zero sum game – where you lose if everyone else is at your level. Why? Why is someone having the same rights as you so scary?

And if it is jobs, because how often to do we see “Well I don’t want people to get hired because they’re filling a quota” – two things:

FIRST: If it is a place where almost no one of color or non-male gender is hired then YOU are being hired to fill a quota. The quota is just “White men.”

SECOND: Why are you so scared? Do you not actually qualify for your job? If there were more applicants are you so convinced your job will be lost to someone else because you know they’ll be better?

Look, there are only so many comics out there. Only so many writing gigs. And I wish for more people, more distinct voices, to enter the field. Will this result in me getting less work? I don’t think so, but I’m confident in my ability to compete. I’m also confident that more voices and more diversity will up everyone’s level and increase the overall quality of the work produced across the board. Competition is healthy. Diversity is healthy. It makes us all better at what we do. Don’t fear it – embrace it and up your game.

I’ve gotten a bit off topic. Sorry.

But when you hide behind distancing terms like “politically correct” we all know you’re just fucking scared of having to treat everyone the way you want to be treated. You’re scared of losing your inherited privilege. You fear equality because it means you aren’t special just for being born.

BONUS ROUND: The standard arguments section:

1) “I’m a white male, but I don’t have privilege, I’ve been (poor/passed up/hard working/etc) and I didn’t get a leg up!” Untrue. Your privilege is in everything. The game of life still isn’t easy but it is easier for you than for many others. Sorry.

2) “I was (passed up/passed by/unfairly let go/etc) because of a politically correct movement!” Translation – you couldn’t compete. Sorry about that. Try harder.

3) “Those People can get jobs in (field X) they just don’t want them!” Well, first of all, if you actually said “those people” stop right there, apologize and try again. But, really? You know everyone? You’ve talked to them all and come to this highly scientific conclusion? May I read your research, please? I’ll wait…

Time travel and how the universe actually works.

All right! So you have 4 types of time travel. They break down like this:

Causal linear – Stuff in the past directly affects stuff in the future. If I kill a dude in the past, he is dead, his kids never happened, etc.

Non-Causal linear – What you do in the past will not affect the future. That time self-heals and corrects for mistakes.

Causal non-linear – Stuff done in the past creates a split-off universe. Go back and kill someone and his kids are fine in YOUR FUTURE AS THEY ALREADY WERE, but you create a second universe where they never happened. Which one you go back to is down to story mechanics, etc.

Non-causal non-linear – Stuff we do in the past affects the future but also leaves the future alone. It is a paradox method of travel.

SO! Back to the Future 1 uses causal linear, right? Marty doesn’t get parents to meet – he won’t exist (we will ignore the problem that such changes should be instantaneous and yet seem to take different amounts of time to happen, meaning, theoretically, that the changes themselves have to travel in time back to the future to effect it which… is a different problem).

But in BttF 2 they make a change and end up in a split off time stream. That’s Causal non-linear! So they use both and fuck it.

Terminator, of course, uses only the basic causal linear model. It is the simplest.

Looper gets crafty. It starts by showing us, through the punishment for not closing a loop, that it is Causal linear. Simple enough. But then it creates a paradox. We see Bruce Willis come back twice, with two different results. Results that stay with the same time line. So the rest of the movie is in paradox already.

And we go along. And at the end Gordon-Levitt kills himself. Bringing us back to Causal linear. But that paradox can’t be causal linear because the system wouldn’t allow for it. So it must be Non-causal non-linear because that allows for the following:

What you do in the past will change the future. But the future that happened also did happen, up until the change. At which point it both did and did not happen. It is a paradox Universe. And that’s ok. Because in reality, it is probably the closest to what actually happens.

This, for the record, is also how Doctor Who works.

Because the universe is NOT just 1s and 0s floating in space. Sorry. It is also what we observe. Heisenberg opened that door and he’s right. So did Schrodinger. See… once you can tell where an electron is but not how fast it is going (or vice versa) on an atomic level you are literally saying “Until I saw both and labelled them – all of it happened” it didn’t retroactively go into a slot. It was in them all until them. This is, in fact, why electron clouds work.

Schrodinger, of course, brought us a cat whose state is unknown until observed. Once observed though, it collapses the probability wave. It if was A/B before you looked and A after – that does NOT mean it was A before you looked. It was, in fact A/B before you looked. That’s fact.

We live in a paradox universe.

If I go back and kill your grandfather, and I wouldn’t I hear he’s a great guy, upstanding citizen, He would die. You would vanish. But the things you touched and affected in your life would still have happened – up until the simultaneous and yet not-at-all-linear second I killed him, and wiped you out. At which point you didn’t exist. Except you totally did. Crushed a flower when you were ten – that flower was still crushed. By you. Except it wasn’t.

And the universe spins on. Because a basic fundamental paradox is built into the way the universe works and it is 100% fine with it.

We simply never developed grammar for a did/didn’t situation. And we need to. Because it is how the universe works, and we can’t explain it right without things getting messy. But. Using the tools we have:

We live in a non-causal non-linear universe. Looper was just being honest about it.

Blog editors.

I used Grammarly to grammar check this post because I’m a neurotic space monkey with enough spare time to test tools and report on them for you to enjoy. Meanwhile, I remain a monkey, in a capsule, in space. Oh god, I’m running out of aiiiirrrrrrrrrrrrr… But why did I use Grammarly? That’s part of a bigger discussion.

Editing is a funny thing. Most pro-writers I know extol the virtues of working with an editor. A lot of self-pub authors, not to bag on them but…, they tend to shun editors. Editors are pricey they say. They can just edit themselves all the way start to finish they say. It’s close enough they say.

They are wrong.

A good editor is worth double whatever you pay them. They do more than spell check and grammar check. They help you tease out the truths you want to say, but subtly miss in your own work.

But that’s prose, and comics and the like. What about blogs. Have you ever known of a personal blog with an editor? And yet some of them make money off their work, and you would think they would want to put their best foot forward. I am a huge supporter of editors, and yet I don’t hire one to proofread my blog entries.

We’re lax about it. We feel these are informal places and so why use an editor, and I get that. But once you use it for professional purposes, shouldn’t you, well, be a professional about it and treat it like you would anything else you’re serious about writing? Probably.

Then you come to realize you would need to pay an editor. For blog posts, you aren’t making much money on at all. Still, it would improve what you did, I’m willing to bet. Your writing would read sharper, and your ideas would end up better expressed.

It comes down to a simple question: What is your blog worth to you?

And this is where Grammarly might come in. Honestly I am not sold on it yet. I’m intrigued by it but far from sold. It’s a service you can upload writing to and check it against a bunch of rules and such (it’ll even do plagiarism checks) to improve the look and feel of your writing. Which is awesome – in theory. There are a number of filters for checks (depending on the type of writing) and, generally, it seems to work.

But it isn’t an editor. Mind you, they are sort of paying me to review their product, but really I Wanted to fold it into a much bigger discussion about editing and blogging and how we perceive it. I mean as a platform to make money it is a professional thing and should be treated as such. But as an expression of just a person, lounging and chatting that happens to also bring in some money – where do we land?

I think we need to talk this out, a bunch of us. I’ll tell you though – I will be offering an Editor For Blogs service, probably soon. Tiered and so on. So mail (adampknave @ gmail) if you want super cheap rates or to discuss it. Because this sort of thing needs to happen for the community, I think.

Most importantly how do you feel about Blog Editors for personal blogs?

Social Media isn’t your friend.

There is an ongoing myth about Social Media: The “friend.” It is insidious, dangerous, and honestly weakens the concept of what a friend is. So let’s set fire to this myth. Come with me, and grab a point stick!

Back in the days of yore, when old people like me were first poking at using websites as “weblogs” (In my day we didn’t shorten it to blogs! We used the whole term, like a hunted animal!) LiveJournal came along and offered us grazing land for the herds. And you would add people you wanted to read.

You would friend them.

Now, sure, some of these people were already friends of your in life, and some might become actual friends, but the sickness, that unique mental fuck-poke of thinking that because someone wants to read you they are your friend, started for a lot of us there.

I like to read Alan Sepinwall’s TV reviews. I am not his friend. He is not mine. I mean, I hear he’s a great guy, don’t get me wrong. But just because I want to read his words, it doesn’t entitle me to be his friend, nor does it imply I am his friend.

As it should be.

And that idea carried over. And still carries over.

Now, on Twitter, you have “Followers” who you can follow back. They aren’t called friends. But because Twitter is a much smaller packet burst system, it comes across as less “reading” and more “conversation,” be it a fractured, fucked up conversation where we’ve all sitting with pots on our heads, beating at them with sticks, and shouting “I can hear you, too” into the wind, while peeing on ourselves.

I love Twitter. I can’t explain it well, I fear, but the general level of interaction, coupled with the ease of use and shortness of required attention make it something I can use and still get shit done around. Sweet spot.

But: Followers. It’s an issue. Because I follow people and they follow me and – well who cares?

I don’t. I have some decently good friends that I follow, because I am deeply interested in their lives, and they don’t follow me back. Though they are interested in mine as well. Some people I care about and don’t follow.

It all comes down to available bandwidth. Everyone’s brain has an internal capacity for plugging directly into someone else’s. you have to find out what it is for yourself and find a way to work with it. For some that’s “Follow ten people” for some it is a thousand. Whatever it is, you work out where you are the most comfortable and then decide how you like to use the tools available.

See how this is tool based, brain space based, and comfort based – but never “friend based”? That’s because all of this, all of social media is a fucking fire hose aimed at your ass. And if you don’t want the signal to noise to overwhelm you and blow your kidneys out of your throat, you have to learn how to adjust the nozzle and protect yourself. It is, seriously and literally, a basic tenant of sanity now to be able to do this.

Friends don’t enter into it. And certainly not “friends” the way social media defines them. A friend is someone you count of, call on, and cherish. Some of them may also be friends of yours on social media. But I’ll bet 90% of the ppl you are forced, by system programs, to label in a site as “friend” aren’t. Acquaintances, maybe. Folks you like to read? Sure. But friends? Naw, not so much.

And that’s fine. It’s good! I have a very small circle of actual friends and a very wide circle that the internet seems to insist I label that way. So we need to all be careful.

But here’s the key: You use social media your way. I use it mine.

I know people who use lists on Twitter to follow 1000s of people, but only read a handful. I don’t like to, personally. Nothing wrong with it, but for me, for my own brain, I like to follow the number of people I can, at that moment, and go from there.

I don’t judge people who use social media in their way, and I refuse to be judged for how I use it. It’s all good. Some people follow only friends. Some follow everyone. Some only broadcast advertising. Whatever it is – you decide if you want to tune in and you do so. But placing expectations that the person you are choosing to tune into has an obligation to you, ever, outside of “There is a friendship here” and I mean a real one, is trying to make other people play your game.

Instead – find your best use case. Use it to whatever degree you get the most out of it. And know your real friends, and your labeled friends and remember the difference between them.

Social Media Kinda Sucks

This is how we are taught to behave by social media:

  • Move without thinking.
  • React without compassion.
  • Lash out at anyone who is coping in a way that is not your way.

It’s dangerous. Worse yet, it’s unfriendly. Social media is the most antisocial thing around. But we drink it in. We tell people who can run a twitter feed they are “social media experts” and then we pay them money to tell us how we should use the stuff we were using just fine before. And what they tell us, by the way, is to not follow the advice of people telling us how to use social media.

But there we all are. Flocking. Smacking everything in reach so people laugh and share what we said with strangers. It’s a form of validation and it needs shallowness and thoughtlessness to work. So we weigh in on issues that are way too big for short tiny messages anyway, and we do it as fast as possible to not be left out. We don’t think, we don’t reason or live with the issues for tome until it makes sense. We don’t approach it as a question – only as our opinion, which cuts off our ability to say “I am not sure here,” and find people to have open, honest discussion with.

I dunno. I just feel like we know better and should start acting like it more often.