02 june 2020
Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter
I've been exhausted these past couple of weeks. Not entirely sure why, but have to assume its at least in part due to the virus and lockdown. I think I've gotten too sedentary. I've started trying to get myself out on my treadmill for a bit each day just to get some movement in. I should probably upgrade that from "a bit" to "a while," but, baby steps, yknow?
The butterfly effect is an interesting concept. As a quick refresher, it's basically the name for cascading reactions - something happens, causes something else, etc etc.
Sometimes I think about my own life and what conditions have dominoed forward for the better. I like to go back and find "the reason" for something happening. I don't particularly think there is a plan in motion, but it gives me some kind of comfort nonetheless.
In 2011 and 2012, I interned at a large tech company. I assumed I would be working there out of college, but it didn't quite work out that way. I was not offered a position. I was dismayed, but a month or so later, a recruiter for another company reached out to me. I interviewed and got the job. They actually didn't realize I was still in college, which was pretty funny honestly.
When I started work at that company, I became friends with a coworker. During one of our company events, there was a drawing for tickets to a baseball game. For whatever reason, it was three tickets. My coworker/friend won, and he ended up giving me a ticket and brought along his then-girlfriend.
At the baseball game, I met his girlfriend. After getting to know me for a bit, she had an idea. She planned to set me up with someone and the four of us would go on a double date.
I was hesitant to do the blind double date, but I went. Turns out, it went well. We're married now (the date, not my friend).
My partner moved in after a few months. Pretty quick honestly. She began to change the way I thought about money pretty shortly after. We began to save money as best we could. That worked out very well for us, and after getting our dog, we proceeded to buy a house, get married and buy a new car all in one year without taking on much debt. Well, besides the mortgage. That's a lot of debt.
The new house created a commute for me. I previously was walking to work, and now I was driving. Not very far, but it still bugged me quite a bit. I don't much love driving to begin with, at least in rush hour traffic. So I took that as a sign and began to look for a new job. I eventually landed at my current job, which is a full time remote position for a company I highly respect and am proud to be a part of. The pay gain was substantial and the work is fulfilling.
So here I am, sitting on the couch in a home I never thought I could have, with a partner whom I love, the silliest dog, a fulfilling job working comfortably from my own space - and none of it would have happened if I had gotten that first job. I never would have met my wife if my coworker didn't win those tickets.
Butterflies, who knew?
Tonight, my wife asked me: "What would you say are my values?" It's part of a self improvement program she joined last year. This is the final month, and she is tasked with considering her life and what makes her happy as if she were celebrating her 80th birthday.
I spent a long time thinking about this. Long enough that she began to retract her question. I can think of who she is, what she does, and what qualities she has. But turning her values from abstract concepts into words was incredibly difficult. Even harder was avoiding just listing off traits instead of actual values.
A few minutes later and I had managed to get a few values out there. She seemed happy with the assessment, but when I asked her to do the same for me, I saw her go through the exact same problem of trying to think about me in words instead of as an abstract conept - then avoid listing traits instead of values. It's an incredibly complex question, and at the end of the day, I think it's one that you really do need to answer for youself by considering what you would look back on in your old age and feel proud of.
For me, I landed on: comfort for myself with a place I can call my own, giving to my community in a way that truly empowers those around me, stewardship of nature, and creating something that will live beyond myself.
I have my doubts that these will be the same forever, but if I could look back on my life and check off those boxes, I'd be pretty dang proud.
I just got access here to tilde.town.
I think a lot about internet communities and how things have changed over time. Anyone who was moderately active on the internet through the 90's and early 00's has some kind of community they were active in. A forum (shoutouts to invisionfree), a chat, IRC or in my case, a custom rolled blogging-and-game-publishing website.
I joined my community when I was 13 if I recall correctly. I'm 28 now, and so that group has been a part of my life for more than half of my existence. I still sorta keep in touch with some of them, but the website and largely the community has since fallen apart, sucked up by what we now call "platforms".
It's strange how we went from small, focused self-governing communities to these massive "platforms" who host as many folks as they can. Inside those platforms, people create their own groups, but it means that everyone from outside that group can see, participate and harass. Banning from a platform is a major impact on someone. It can break your career. The term "deplatforming" is a thing for that very reason. In the past, if you were a dick, you'd get banned. I did my fair share when I became a moderator and then administrator on my community. Someone would get barred from the one space. It wasn't a death sentence, but it helped keep things running clean and positively. Maybe that person would come back in a few years, having matured a bit, and we'd let them back in. Maybe not.
That era is mostly gone now, at least to the general public. But now we've got stuff like tilde.town, mastodon, etc - we're seeing people self sort back into places they have some kind of control over and some sense of belonging. I've spent years searching for that feeling of belonging to a real community again. I don't know if I'll ever find it, as it may well just be nostalgia manifested, but I'm not going to stop trying to recreate the positive nature of communities.