Trouble and Silence

Roughly 30-months ago I started this blog.
Thousands of hours and 130+ posts later, I think that it has come to its natural conclusion.

I have always enjoyed writing and this blog gave me a chance to do that, but the more I invested in it, the more it began to dictate my life to me.

Journalism was one possible career avenue and it was the online course on which I enrolled that first suggested keeping a blog. I was told that it was a good way to “get your name out there”, a good way to attract a following, and a good way to create and market Brand Paddy. It would also significantly improve my writing, and I believe it has, but as the months passed, more and more the blog felt like a burden.

In order to keep your site high in the Google results you need fresh content. Your followers need regular posts so that they don’t forget and abandon you. Your brand needs constant updates because we live in a world of live streams and 24/7 news. If you don’t keep up, you fall behind.

I am happy to fall behind now. In fact, I am quite content to drop out of the race entirely.

This writing has been a good chapter, but I feel that it is time to move on.

It has served its purpose. I have learnt from it and now I want to focus my energies on other things.

In the past, I have attempted many pet projects to see what their effects would be on me as a person. What worked? What didn’t? What lessons can be learned?

For six-months, whilst in university, I avoided alcohol. It taught me that everything should be done in moderation.

For one-month in university, I went without Facebook and without a mobile phone, It taught me that one can be enslaved by technology, but also liberated. Some evils are necessary in this 21st century world.

For one-month, two summers ago, I embarked on an experiment of polyphasic sleeping. It taught me that with more free time, a lot can be achieved. But it also taught me, unsurprisingly, the value of sleep and rest. Take care of your body, it’s the only one you have.

For 12-months I joined with a handful of friends and established a group of effective altruists. It taught me that people are surprisingly open to helping others, many just need some encouragement. It also taught me that people are forgetful. Through no fault of their own, people need to be chased and need to be reminded. There are a lot of distractions in life.

For the last 24-months I have been intentionally celibate. My last relationship did not leave me in the best of places and by avoiding temptations and turning down offers, I have learned to value what I once had, and to see male-female interaction as more than just the pursuit of sex.

This blog has been useful, for myself and for visitors. If you dig amongst the ramblings, now and then you will stumble upon a sentence or paragraph that is justified in its existence. The time and energy has been worthwhile, because on the rare occasion, the words contribute in a small way.

I have had numerous emails from people who to talk to me about BPD. I would like to think that my words on Syria better informed a few people. Residents of Brighton and Hove may just be inclined to think a little differently on the issue of homelessness.

Being published on The Guardian, and having the subsequent Wikipedia references from that, will always be a highlight from this blog. But there have been a number of other successes as well. Psychology Today, Class Action, Center for a Stateless Society, Atheist Alliance, local newspapers, Craft & Design, TitanBet, and Skin Deep Tattoo Magazine. The latter I may continue to submit articles to when the feeling takes me.

And I think this is what gets to the root of it all. “When the feeling takes me”. You should do what you enjoy, in moderation of course, until you get to the point of no longer enjoying it, Then you should stop.

Trouble and Squeak – and I have no idea how or why it got that name – began to be a task rather than a hobby. I would sometimes worry when it had been a week and I hadn’t written anything.

I spend at least eight hours a day in front of a screen, typing and clicking. And often when work is over I really do not want to return to the flat only to type and click for another three, four, five hours, making content for this blog.

Who was I even doing it for? I knew the beliefs that I had. I knew what stories, films, and interviews I had read, seen, and heard. Was it my responsibility to condense these into an 800-word article so that others would see the issue the same way?

On some issues you cannot, and must not, be silent. Stop the War Coalition’s (or at least their members) smearing of the Syria Solidarity Movement was one such time. I am glad that I wrote what I did, and I am glad that it got 4,000 views in a matter of days.

A lot of what I wrote however, is just filler. It didn’t add to any debate, it didn’t bring to light any unknown information. It was just content, and the internet is full of it now. I think we are getting to the stage where there is actually too much. Our lives are online, there is no physicality any more, nothing tangible. It is just an opinion or a photo, relevant for a few seconds, and then gone.

Where is the longevity? Our creations as fleeting as our lives.

A constant demand to update. Every second. Unless you tweet, you don’t have an opinion. Unless you post a status, you weren’t in the gym. Unless you upload a photo, you were never on holiday.

It’s fucking exhausting. It’s unhealthy. And it’s unnatural.

I think that time impacts on things in more ways than we realise. I don’t believe in instant gratification. People do not become best friends overnight. Love is the result of time in one another’s thoughts and/or company. Art should not be rushed. And if you appreciate food, be willing to wait for it.

We are all constantly rushing, and for what? The only place we are going is the grave, so why not slow down and enjoy it.

As I said, I enjoy writing, so I will continue, but I do not want to be a part of this rat race. 140 characters here, a status update there, daily blogs to fulfil the Google SEO. The world is more complex than this. If we got off our smartphones and looked then we would realise that.

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