This is Hubris: 17 January 2021 edition, the newsletter where I have the audacity to think I’ve written something worth reading.
It’s been a hell of a couple of weeks, hasn’t it. Covid-19 is running rampant because people continue to gather in large crowds and refuse to wear masks. There’s a civil war raging in the United States. I’ve got person things going on behind the scenes that I don’t even want to talk about. We’re all physically and emotionally exhausted. So let’s try to switch things up, give ourselves a break, and try to focus on living a simple creative life as much as we’re able.
Rewatching Marie Kondo
Most of the time I’ve been listening to music while I work. Blue Note jazz, synthwave, 1960s soul, 1970s funk, all upbeat and energetic. Occasionally I want to hear some human voices speaking, though, just as background noise. Movies and scripted TV shows are too distracting. Musical cues, changing volume, it’s hard to process. So I’ve been streaming the most innocuous reality shows I can find on Netflix. Which led to me putting on Marie Kondo’s show, which I had watched through when it first came out.
I’m not going to editorialize about Kondo. If her methods work for you, great. If you find her a little weird, hey, you’re entitled to your opinion. What caught my eye this time around were the people she was trying to help. I’ve noticed this on a lot of reality makeover-type shows before: people clearly don’t want to change.
They’re resistant to the advice being offered, even when it’s objectively good and is the obvious solution to their problem. There’s not mistaking that a lot of compliance is performative; they’re going along to be on television, and get whatever appearance fee or other perks they’ve been promised. Most of them likely when right back to their old ways as soon as the cameras stopped rolling.
Becoming minimalist, or tidying up, or whatever you want to call it, is like any other change. It has to come from within. You need to acknowledge the problem, and sincerely want to embrace the solution. Otherwise you’re just finding a new way to waste time and money.
While I’ve been not-blogging I’ve also, sadly, been not-writing. As much as I wished I were sequestered away making word count, so far 2021 has been all about business. I rewrote my business plan (something every small business should do periodically) to refocus my goals and identify new opportunities. Then I rewrote Katie’s business plan, with her input of course, to help her figure out where to best spent her time and resources. I did a little consulting with some colleagues, people I trust and who know what they’re doing. We bounce ideas off each other, which is always beneficial to solopreneurs.
It’s like going on a road trip. As much as you want to be on the road, you can’t always hop in the car and start driving. Having a map, knowing how much you have to spend, and packing some supplies will make the experience a lot more enjoyable.
Social Media and Peace of Mind
Being offline for huge swaths of time, as well as spending some quality time immersed in the audio, visual, and written works of Hank Green, has given me some new perspectives on social media. I’ve needed to take a step back and look at these platforms as tools. They’re like cars. A lot of people rely on them for work, for their social lives, or as feats of artistry and engineering. There are some innate problems with cars (fossil fuels and emissions, for a start) but they’re not intrinsically good or evil.
There are some foundational and enforceable rules with cars, though. You aren’t allowed to drive on the sidewalk, for instance. Generally you can’t do things that could result in people getting hurt. I’m old enough to remember the outrage when states began requiring automobile insurance. When I was a kid there were no airbags, and seatbelts were neither standard nor mandatory to wear. People felt these safety measures were an infringement of their rights.
At some point we’ll see the benefit of having rules and go along with them. You don’t hear a lot of rants about having to wear a seat belt these days. Lack of insurance compliance is mostly an economic issue, not a protest against the concept. Social media will settle down eventually, and we’ll see decent behavior and deplatforming as social norms.
Until then, I kind of expect that “free speech” advocates on social media will look a lot like second amendment rights advocates in terms of intensity.