Xoterica 27: The Exit
“Do not run away; let go. Do not seek, for it will come when least expected.” (Lee)
Closing one door opens another, or so the trendy wisdom claims, mostly from pseudo-therapists making too much money selling wisdom to broken people. They're junkies, just like the rest of us.
For most of my adult existence and recent memory, I have had social media tubes tightly connected to my veins. When times were chill and more innocent, digital media was an addiction, fun and blissfully necessary, like the first puffs of great ganja where the high is endlessly vertiginous.
Now, I'm pushing the poison out of my pores, like the bile that once flowed from broken organs out of my skin, jaundicing my whole existence. Walking away from attention to social media is the ultimate antithesis of what I built SERE to be - an outward-facing creative organism created to show, to share and to breathe life into a dull digital world.
Attention to that addiction brought me much success, allowed me to exemplify the best of my creative talents and demonstrate that my artistic voice is worthy in a world of shouts and tweets. While it didn't get me rich, it allowed me to be comfortable.
For a while. Stability was great while the world was stable. And then elections. Tariffs. Viruses. Deaths. Regression and recession.
Everything tumbled down. Dreams. Reality. Fantasy. Stability. It's still tumbling down. It's amazing how doorways of our lives can remain standing in the face of raging tornados or other disasters, raging or otherwise.
It would seem the union of storms I once spoke of has returned, minus the red windows and pockets of bloody pain. A life once again in crisis. This time, I have enough success under my belt that I should qualify a specific level of compensation. Call my shot better than before.
But I'm not the same as before. Skilled, but not thrilled by the machine or my need to return to solve my life crisis. Talented, but jaded by the reality of pandering to an audience. Healthy, but broken in more ways than I can possibly repair with current resources.
The hours of wealth wasted on social media resulted in a constant reminder of how broke, imperfect and unhip I am. The failing metrics of dreams that were supposed to work with the right tactics ended empty, walletdrained and heartbroken. A cacophony of past mistakes and communities of hate trumpet my walking away.
The exit reflects my present paradox: I am not who I want to be, but do not know who I am beyond this voice. Education bought me intelligence. Trauma delivered me dexterity. Persistence offered me charisma. But I lack the strength and wisdom to be a fully effective character in this campaign.
Always looking for the exit door, not a new entryway to an adventure with better treasure. The dungeon was manufactured, just like the gilded compensation upon which the dragon sits. Slay one dragon and empty one cave, and find that the wizard has a machine that generates dragons like popcorn. Always more caves, and dragons lurking in the shadows.
Right now, a dragon called "novel coronavirus" is bringing countries around the world to its knees. It is a shadow of grimmer things to come, destabilizing global economies and dragging mighty corporations into contraction and fear of the dragon's ultimate roar.
Stability is the new illusion. We live in a world built on dragon hordes that don't really exist, erected with the tinder and matchsticks of combustible countries that are a strike away from catastrophe. Social media sells us fantasy, tells us that we're worthy, and aligns us with consumer thinking that keeps the machine spinning. And spinning. And spinning.
As if our front door is an ever-flipping revolving door of a bankrupt mini-mall filled with the ghosts of Blockbuster Videos stores, Pier 1s and arcades. Keep smiling. Keep watching. Keep buying.
The bullshit. The fake tanner and cheetospit. The lies from the pulpit.
We love our social media and social hipness to death, but despise socialism and sacrifice for the better good. We pound our fists on tomes, and the dust that rises from those strikes is often racist, woeful and inhumane. We scream "Love thy neighbor", then shut ourselves away in perfect pixelated bubbles.
Every bubble bursts, just like every star can only grow so large before it explodes and shrivels away into a dwarfed anti-self. That dark dwarf drifts in space, a shadow of its former self and seething with sublime power. I grew my social media audience to over 50,000 "fans, followers and friends" over 14 years across MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube and DeviantArt. I paid thousands of dollars to promote my pages to peeps who would like or follow my pages and profiles. For all of that effort, I walk out of primary social media profiles with roughly the same number of personal connections I went into it with.
As of this weekend, I will have exited Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, MySpace and Tumblr. I'm still deciding on Twitter.
My email list is my true dwarf star; it is the true measure of how many people have went outside of easy social media connections to follow who I am and what I have to say. Even my email widget overcompensates for how many people have subscribed to my email list (sorry - I can't seem to figure out how to shut off that flawed function of my website using the recommended methods; I'm trying). At current count, my email list is .25% the size of my social media audience.
That period isn't a typo.
My metrics for engagement per post are even worse, even with my discipline and focus.
So, I asked myself "why the actual fuck am I doing this?" I imagine myself as hulked-up Russell Crowe, standing tall bloody and battered in the gladiator ring, extending out scarred arms, and saying
"Are you not entertained?"
After having spent 14 years in social media and netting as many true followers as I could fit into a bus, the illusions fell away: I discovered that I was spending too much time sharing, and not enough time creating.
Too much time selfie'ing, too little time living below the surface.
Too much time posting, and not enough time learning.
Too much time being manipulated by the machine, and not enough time appreciating the life of the luddite.
Too much time plugged in, too little time tuned out.
These days, the hours I once spent scrolling walls and trolling halls of thought are devoted to building new horizons, new visions and new dreams. The time I spent arguing with lurkers in my world is focused on returning to the discipline of production, of an artist focused on goals, rather than audience enragement, engagement and entertainment. The only metrics I plan to meet are the ones that are aligned to my production targets for upcoming releases. The shares and cares that I once dumped into vaporous social media conversations are channeled into print and works that always should've been my platforms.
I suppose it's a bit of a function of growing older, the changes that flow from turning of seasons. "Less is more" is now good enough for me. As a vegetarian, minimalist and frugal human, excess and "greater" are no longer impressive to me. No life or ecosystem can survive constant growth; every life explodes someday, like a frail piñata of memories, fantasies and intestines that spews innards everywhere. Death of every system, structure and lifestyle is inevitable.
The exit is always messy, but so is the entrance.
#xoterica #artrovert #sereticstudios
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