Culling


It would be a lie if I tried to say that I write “only for myself”.

In fact, I dare say that most people who write and share their writing on some level do not write exclusively “for themselves”.

Perhaps you, my dear reader, are someone who shall now attest that you do, in fact, write only for yourself and to hell with likes, shares, follows, and views. And if you are truly honest in this proclamation, then congratulations. You are an anomaly. You are unique. You are rare. You are a unicorn.

For most, however, there is some intrinsic desire to see numbers increase, to feel as though more people are reading what we write, and that they do so because they legitimately enjoy what we’re writing about…or at least the way in which we write about those things.

That being said, it is difficult to honestly gauge our reach, our level of connection. It’s difficult to tell who reads what, for what reason they read, and to what degree they like, or even if they actually care. We are given crude numbers that end up being this mercurial element which is tangent to all the numbers we’re given.

The actual connection between these numbers, however, is vague and the truth of those values debateable.

This leads us to the actual point of this post. Culling.

As of today, I’ve done two cullings of my followers.

The way I do this is as follows: I go through the last 10 posts or 10 days (whichever is longer) and I record the name of every like I got. I then go through my list of followers and redact anyone who hasn’t liked anything I wrote over that given span of posts or time.

First time, I went from approximately 430+ followers down to 48.

Think about that.

430 people were supposedly following me, but of them, less than 50 had made even the most tenuous of interactions with my posts. That’s a little over 11%.

Now, some people might say, “But perhaps a lot of them were reading, but they just don’t click like.”

This is true. But the problem with that logic is that, when I removed the better part of 400 followers, my stats didn’t change enough to substantiate the claim that almost any of them were just “passive viewers”.

Today, I completed my second culling. I went from 283 down to 105, and I suspect I will see the same overall effect. I suspect I will get the same sort of views and likes because, generally speaking, the same core group of people like what I post. Other people like and follow, and then disappear. More to point, it gives me a more accurate depiction of how many people might actually be looking at what I post rather than just giving me the total number of people who clicked on the “follow” button.

So, how about the rest of you?

Do you sometimes trim your following?

Do you let the idle followers stay on board for the sake of “well, they’re not hurting anything…”?

Feel free to share your thoughts. I always like talking numbers, percentages, and statistics. 🤓

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Codes


I am a person who has a fascination with code.

There is a logic to that logic. There is a certainty in specificity.

Even when things seem illogical, there is is a logic to the lack of logic.

I bring this up, I suppose, because it’s a handy segue that I can connect to later because I tend to write in loops.

Perhaps you’ve noticed.

I find myself at a crossroads of sorts.

But no. Not a crossroad. That alludes to the concept of multiple paths that branch from the direction that I now find myself. This implies that I’m at (0,-1) and am facing the choice to pursue (0,1), (1,0), or (-1,0).

This is inaccurate and I tend to strive for accuracy. Accuracy matters. Precision, however, matters more. Accuracy is the ability to hit the bull’s eye. Precision is the ability to keep hitting it.

Precision is repeatability.

Don’t worry, I’ll tie into that as well. Circles within circles within circles.

You know the drill.

I find myself at a division in the road. As though I’m at (0,-1) and I’m looking at (-1,1) or (1,1).

One path will lead me somewhere that I would like to go. I’m allowed to go there. But I should not go there because, in so doing, I feel that I would cause discomfort to another. I do not like being the cause of discomfort.

This is not to say I’ve never been the cause of discomfort, only that I find no joy, solace, or catharsis in doing so.

This brings to mind a few logical questions. Basic if/thens, if you will. Basic if/thens even if you won’t.

The most flawed, however, begins with, “What would they…”

The end of the statement is irrelevant. It is not a question that can be answered without some degree of assumption. It is not a question that can be answered with specificity. It is, most importantly, not a question that matters.

It doesn’t matter because path (-1,1) violates my code.

Not my code – 01010010110101001 – code.

It violates my Code.

This is not to say I’ve never violated my own Code. We all have Codes. We all violate our Codes. To see a failure of our own algorithms and remain pursuant of further failures, one must find themselves asking, “Is this really my Code, or do I simply claim it? If it’s the latter, then what is my Code?”

A person should know their Code.

A person should know their code – 001010110100110110 – code – to the best of their ability.

We can’t ever really know the bits and bytes of ourselves, but we are not ignorant of all the values – hexadecimal or otherwise.

To strive to pursue our Code is accuracy.

To continue pursuing it with consistency…that is precision.

Precision is important.

By my Code, I have a directive that was imparted at a time prior. A time that was not recent. In the time between, there have been other directives. There have been variables that have adjusted various elements that are tangent to that aforementioned directive.

There has not been a removal of said directive.

I find myself bound by my Code while simultaneously threatening to break it.

Not a real threat.

I don’t make real threats.

I abhor violence in all its forms.

This is not to say that I’ve never been part of an algorithm whose end value was violence – direct or otherwise. But this does not preclude a desire to insert myself into such algorithms and go seeking those end results.

To do so is a violation of my Code, even if it does not violate my code.

I find myself, however, with those divergent paths. Paths that tell me that to pursue (-1,1) would be to break my Code. But then, so too does (1,1). It is a different facet of the same Code. A different code within my code.

That breach, however, would cause me discomfort.

I don’t particularly care for discomfort. I do not pursue it.

This is not to say that I’ve never pursued it – indirectly or otherwise – but I do not seek ways to insert myself into that construct intentionally.

In all my failings, I do not abide the notion of “Since I slipped, I might as well fall.”

To do so would be a violation of my Code, and if I start seeking breaches to my own logic, then I must ask myself, “Is this really my Code, or is this simply what I tell myself?”

The end determination, of course, is simple. It is precise. It is very specific.

Specificity matters.

One path would seem to cause discomfort in another, the other would cause discomfort in myself. Both could potentially hold any number of other end results. But one does not account for unknowns when one does not know the unknowns that one is not accounting for.

If I must choose between my own discomfort and another’s, I cannot choose theirs. It would be inconsiderate.

This is not to say that I’ve never been inconsiderate. We all have been. We all are, from time to time. But when one says that they do not play with matches, they must be aware that others might. We cannot logically say that we can still play with matches merely because we have witnessed another doing so.

In short – the sins of another do not validate or defend my own.

Granted – I do not believe in sins, but the sentiment holds true. If I allow myself to circumvent my own logic because another has circumvented their own logic – then I must ask myself: Do I have a Code, or do I operate on a system of strong suggestions?

So I find myself looking at the slow-motion approach of (-1,1) and (1,1) and I do not need to ask myself, “What is my Code?” because I know what my Code is, even if I don’t fully understand what my code is.

My Code does not seek to cause discomfort in others unnecessarily, and I do not believe there is ever a necessity to cause discomfort. And while I certainly have caused discomfort, in both myself and others, I do not seek this end result. When facing new iterations of that same algorithm, I like to believe that I do not pursue duplicate paths that lead to duplicate values that I did not desire when they first appeared.

If I did not do better than I did before, I would be in violation of my Code…and my code. And I know what my Code is.

A person should know what their Code is.

Psychology


I haven’t had a “thinking out loud” post in a while. The ones I had before are gone now – I generally delete them after a time.

This just isn’t that type of blog.

Nonetheless, I find psychology a strange thing. I find my own psychology a strange thing.

In that regard, I can’t honestly tell you who or what I am – how I’m classified…how I’m not. I can’t tell you that I fall into this particular psychological subset or that one. I don’t know where I am on any neurological bell curve.

I’m also prone to the belief that I know that I don’t know. I don’t take information as concrete when there are reasons – real or imagined – to give doubt to that particular assessment.

I know that every time I take the MBTI, I register as INTJ. If asked, I would tell someone that, when I take the test, it says I’m an INTJ. I don’t know, however, that I’m an INTJ because there are elements about those tests that are hard to quantify. My values have shifted as I’ve taken the MBTI – I’ve gotten dangerously close to NOT being INTJ – something that has occurred when I’ve taken the test several times over a relatively short period.

I blame this on the concept of introspection, analysis, and subjective doubt.

“I’m someone who <insert quantifying element here>”

Answer that question the first time, and maybe I definitely agree, but if I take the test again, and again, and again…it becomes an endeavor of progressive second-guessing. It’s like someone asking you where you put your keys the previous evening.

“I put them on the counter.” <the immediacy of certainty>

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah…I…” <the insertion of doubt> “I…yeah…yeah, I’m sure I did”

This begins to taper answers from “I definitely agree” to “I agree”
It changes the concepts of “I always do” to “I usually do”

Every time I take the MBTI, it says I’m INTJ. Statistically speaking, it seems to imply that I’m INTJ. Am I an INTJ, or do I simply answer the same way reflexively?

I know someone who swore they were an INTJ – they got it every time they took the test. I disagreed with them. I didn’t think they fit the profile. I told them to take it…just one more time…and to do it as fast as possible. To not stop and think about anything. Read and click.

They got a different result – one letter changed – it was a completely different profile.

I don’t know what they really are, psychologically speaking – I just knew that we weren’t the same.

I’ve had people tell me that I have traits of “high functioning autism” or even “just a touch of autism”.

A psychiatrist once told me that “I think you might be somewhere on the spectrum, if only barely.”

They later told me, “I don’t know if it’s autism…it’s almost like you almost border on sociopathy.”

I’ve been told that I might suffer from depression.

OCD.

I’ve taken several tests that imply “High Machiavellianism”

I might have narcissistic personality disorder.

Never histrionic, though. Never had that one show up.

Someone asked me once if I’d ever been formally assessed. They mentioned that some things are hard to properly diagnose the older you get. Apparently, we learn to adapt to what makes us odd – we hide our symptoms and create new coping mechanisms which throws off a lot of tests and assessments.

I told them that I’d never been formally tested for anything and I had no idea if I was any type of anything.

They took a moment to ensure that “a diagnosis doesn’t have to define you,” because their theory was that I didn’t want to be diagnosed with anything in the realm of the psychological/neurological because once you get that diagnosis – that’s where you are now.

You have a label.

It defines you.

They didn’t understand me – which is hardly surprising.

I tried to explain to them that I didn’t care about a label. I’d never been assessed or diagnosed because I didn’t care about the end result. I didn’t care what the final word would be.

They took this as a defeatist point of view, as though what I was saying was, “It won’t matter because there’s nothing that can be done.” Like I was afraid of being diagnosed with stage four brain cancer – the diagnosis would, at best, give me information that I couldn’t change and an end result that would seal my future and all the prospects that it might have held. They heard, “What good will it do? It can’t be fixed.”

They didn’t understand me – which is hardly surprising. I’m used to people not understanding me.

I don’t see it as a defeatist mindset. I don’t view it as “if they tell me I’m a <label> then all they’ve done is given me a diagnosis of ‘broken – can’t be fixed’.”

I don’t care what the label is.

I don’t care if it can be fixed.

I don’t care.

It’s a persistent trait of mine. It’s not a healthy one. It’s something that’s endemic to plenty of psychological structures. Apathy. Lack of empathy. Lack of social connections. Avoidance of others. Seclusion. Etc…etc…etc…

I shrug about too much too often. I find it hard to care about most things. I’m almost annoyingly indifferent in the eyes of most. I’m pessimistic and cynical.

I’m detached and unemotional…until I’m attached and very emotional.

I’m also a dreamer.

I think that anything is possible. I think that the world is shit, but I think we can fix it. I think that we’re inevitably doomed – and I see that as the most wonderful catalyst for progress and growth that I can imagine. I think that nothing matters, but I see it as logical to fight for it anyway.

I’m a nihilist – and I believe in nothing.

Nothing at all.

People sometimes struggle with my philosophical view of the world.

“How can you believe in nothing?”

It’s simple – it’s the only belief that has no loopholes. All other forms of belief are philosophically hypocritical. You probably don’t believe me, but it’s true.

If you believe in a religion, you’re saying that your religious beliefs are true even though when they’re weighed against any other, they both have the same points in the proof and evidence column. You are saying that lack of evidence precludes the reality of your belief while simultaneously disproving another.

You cannot disprove Odin – yet you know he can’t exist. I cannot disprove god, but I know he cannot exist. By your own logic, I have just disproven your own religion. If you disagree, then you have proven the existence of Odin. Try to wrap your mind around that.

This is philosophical hypocrisy.

I believe in nothing.

You cannot disprove it. You might say, “But neither can you prove it.”

And yet, there is no hypocrisy in my belief.

Can you prove god? No. I do not believe in god.

Can you prove Odin? No. I do not believe in Odin.

If you cannot prove a concept or offer strong evidence that has no equal contrapositive, then I do not believe it. This doesn’t waver. It doesn’t change. There are no loopholes. There is no philosophical hypocrisy if everything is held to the same set of rules.

Unfortunately, this turns problematic for more mundane things.

What makes you happy?

What do you do for fun?

Define happy. Define fun.

Most will define these statements subjectively – which is inherently flawed. People identify happiness most frequently with their own interpretation of it. “Like when you <insert personal experience>”

But if this is not an experience that resonates with me, then it does not quantify happiness.

Perhaps this is why negative descriptors are so ubiquitous.

We can rarely put our finger on the pulse of joy and happiness – on elation and love. They are these vague, indeterminate things that we try to put into words and yet we either lack the language or the ability to adequately assess the concept to logically articulate.

Comparatively, we can easily find common ground in sadness. In depression. In fear. In hopelessness. We need no individual constructs to paint those pictures. No one needs to give you an example of what sadness feels like. You’ve felt it. You don’t need to say, “It’s like when you <insert personal experience>.” The terminology is understood and we connect our own individual experiences to the word – not the other way around.

It reminds me something I’ve always found strange – the number of adjectives for negative words often exceeds those for positive ones. We seem oddly capable of defining what’s wrong, and yet seldom know how to define what is right.

Side note: Fiction is a type of writing. Non-fiction is a type of writing. Do you not find it odd that “things that aren’t true” have a genre type, and the only way we can assess that converse of that form of writing is to say, “uh…NOT that” – I’ve always found that strange – our inability to give an honest identity to certain concepts and our willingness to submit to litotes.

Perhaps this is why I find it hard to answer questions about feelings.

How do you feel?

What makes you happy?

I never know how to answer these things, yet I know how not to. I know what I’m not feeling, and can offer an assessment by reduction. I defer to litotes. I end up deferring to what could be termed a “diagnosis of exclusion”.

Perhaps these are elements of being an INTJ. Or a sociopath. Or a barely on the autism spectrum. Or maybe these are the end results of the myriad of years from youth til now and the compounding variables that have accumulated within my own neural pathways.

Nature vs nurture and all that jazz.

But really…I don’t care. The diagnosis is irrelevant. It’s gravity. It’s something that’s happening and I’m not particularly concerned with the particulars. Not because I don’t believe it can be changed. I believe in change.

I believe that anything is possible.

I just…don’t care.

 

2018


So let me try this again.
I started writing this post already this morning and it turned into a poem about the new year rather than a straightforward narrative about the previous one.

So what can I say about 2018?

I wrote a lot of poetry.
I still write a lot of poetry.
At this point, I don’t exactly know why I’m still writing poetry.
Well…no…that’s not entirely true.
I write it because it’s easy. I can sit down and go, “I’m going to write a poem,” and in about ten to thirty minutes, I have something that’s finished. I think the fact that it’s something that I can complete without having to keep working on appeals to me. I never need to go back and go, “Ok…where do I go from here? Where is this leading? Are there continuity issues?”

I don’t have to thread an idea backward through the narrative of a poem. I just start typing and make it to the end and hit publish. And for those that may wonder, I will now walk you through my actual process of writing a poem.

  1. Concept
    1. A word comes to mind and I go, “I can write a poem about that…” or…
    2. A sentence comes to mind and I go, “I can write a poem with that…” or…
    3. I hear a song that has a word or a line that I like and I go, “I could write a poem with that…”
  2. Writing
    1. I start writing the poem with absolutely no plan, no concept of meter, no intended rhyme scheme, and no end game in mind
    2. If rhymes emerge in weird places, I run with it and go, “We’re doing one of these again, I guess…”
    3. I try to make sure I “wrap things up” at the end of the poem
      1. I like to feel like the poem has a conclusion
      2. I don’t like it to feel like “and then the words just kinda…stop…I guess?”
      3. Sometimes this means that the end of my poems have more punch than the rest because the first few stanzas are me just trying writing things because I’m writing things, and the end is me going, “Ok… let’s end this with an exclamation point…”

And…yeah. That’s that. That’s my process in a nutshell.

So what else…

2018…right…that’s what I’m supposed to be talking about.

So let’s talk numbers…I’m a numbers guy. I like numbers.

I started writing October 17 of 2017 – I made 70 according to WP. That number is inaccurate, however, because I redacted all my poems at one point, and while re-publishing them, some got pushed into “post immediately” so I had to revert them to drafts and backdate them. I had no idea when they were posted, so some probably got shoved into 2018 when they didn’t belong there. Also, I deleted some things and never put them back – most of these were poems that I thought were terrible and all of the awards/thinking-out-loud posts. Anywho…let us say 70 is accurate – that’s 70 posts in 75 days and I had an average of 11.9 likes per post.

2018, I made a total of 486 posts. Some of these are short stories, but most of it is poetry. I also left WP for a little over a month (I think?), so that number would have been higher had I not taken a sabbatical. That’s 1.33 posts per day. I had an average of 19.6 likes per post.

All combined, I have 86,697 words written on WordPress. Subtracting anything that’s a short story (I think there’s like…27? 30? Something like that…) that’s about 525 poems. I feel like I should see that number and be either impressed (Wow! Look at all those poems! I’ve written all the things! *insert sense of accomplishment*) , or maybe disheartened (Wow…Just…wow…what’s wrong with me? Why am I doing this? This can’t be healthy…). But if I’m being honest, I feel…nothing. I’m terribly apathetic about it. I see the numbers and I think, “Huh…so that’s what I’ve done over the past 14.5 months.” *shrug*

I once said that I started writing poetry, at least in part, to “pour my darkness out” – I even wrote a poem about that… (Poem about why I write poetry…is that an inception poem?), and if that is, in fact, true, then I wonder if I’m now poetically dry heaving.

Maybe?

I dunno.

I also said at some point or another that I started writing for an audience of one. I eventually realized that I was actually writing for an audience of zero. Even now, when I write, I feel like I’m pretty much just talking to an empty room. This is not to say that no one is listening, or that there aren’t people in the room who seem to enjoy hearing me speak, but that’s not the point. For a while, I think I lived under the illusion that, maybe I’d have some perfect day where I’d write the perfect thing, and my audience of one would come by in that perfect moment, and…I don’t know. Some part of my mind probably thought there was a plan in there somewhere that actually led to some end result that mattered. The numerical part of my brain, of course, just sat there shaking its head like it was watching someone eating paste.

Anywho. That’s where I’m at now, I suppose. I write for an empty room. I’m glad some people swing by, take a seat, listen, and occasionally clap I suppose, but I’m currently just writing for the room, and writing because it’s easy to do. Because I can sit down and start typing, reach a conclusion, and be done with it.

So…yeah. Yay for 2019, I guess?

I dunno.

I’ll keep writing things. It’s what I do, apparently. I also have another short story idea in mind. Plus, I need to finish up Aberration.

I’ve also thought about posting my book here…but it’s a big book. It’s 78 chapters and 350,000 words. Maybe, when I finally finish editing, I’ll just make a post about it, and put up a link so people can download it and read it. Or not…I dunno.

Okay. That’s all.

I’m done.

365


So today is my one year mark for being on WP.

I’m pretty sure at some point I thought I’d use this to have one of those “What I’ve learned in my time here” type posts or something. Maybe a video.

Then again, I redacted most of my content on what wound up being my “11 month and 4 day” mark…which I found fortuitous since it was seriously not planned.

I can’t say that I have any words of wisdom to share at this point…so…anywho…365 days. Yup. That happened.