#239: Social Media

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Social media is funny. For starters, it allows us to connect across the world with friends we might never hear from otherwise. Without Facebook, I probably wouldn’t know a damn thing what my friend Rachel, who lives in Australia currently, is up to. It’s nice to see updates from friends who mean a lot to me, even though we don’t talk super frequently. I also have friends on there much older than me, people I met and became acquainted with during my various internships, and whom I owe so much of my professional success to. It’s nice to see them comment on my professional updates, especially when I’m really trying to take care of myself more. Social media is what allows all this flourish, and I’m thankful for it in that sense.

Though, social media also gives me anxiety from time to time. Sometimes I think life would be simpler if I didn’t constantly see updates from people I went to college with, telling me what they’ve been up to since then. Some of them are completing their second year as teachers, and while that’s very exciting for them, it leaves me with a feeling of emptiness. Not everything I do needs to be compared to other people’s lives, but social media almost encourages us to compare the two. It’s a part of social media’s DNA. Every post you make, every story you upload, every status you write, every like you share, every click you make, everything eventually is tied to someone else, and it’s connected to your online profile, either through Google, Facebook, or what have you. The people who “like” it, the people who ignore it, the people who are online but have better things to do. It’s tough not to take personally.

Was social media a mistake?

#153: The Guild

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When I first started playing World of Warcraft, years and years and years ago, I met some friends online who had just started playing, too. We quickly became friends and bonded over our immaturity, youth, and playful attitudes. It’s so easy to find like-minded individuals online when your entire personality is shaped by your online presence and what you find on the Internet. Our guild, called “R A W R” (because we were kids who liked memes and cats on the Internet), meant a lot to me, and our regular conversations in guild chat set the standard for what I would come to expect from sociable, inviting guilds. We would set up raids of Alliance cities, and have regular hang-outs in secret alcoves on the world map that no one knew about except us (or so we thought). We discussed guild matters, like who deserved a rank promotion and, more likely, who was being annoying on a particular day. There was drama, of course, as there is in any guild, but we persevered through it. Our guild’s downfall came not because of any drama or anything like that, but because we all, gradually and slowly, stopped playing the same game as each other. I remember quitting at one point and roping in my guild friends to come play other computer games with me, but that never lasted very long. I think one was a browser game, with blue fish and matching cards. That’s all I remember from it.

Some of my friends who used to play still come on every once in awhile, though not as often any more. It’s not the same as it used to be; even if we were to try to recapture that old magic, it’s past that time in our lives. And I think we all recognize that, which is why we don’t talk as much as we used to.

#152: The Dog Bathroom

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When living life as a dog, everywhere is a bathroom, at least until you’re trained not to. But even when you are trained, sometimes you like to take big doggy poops outside in the bushes and leave them in places where Anthony has a difficult time picking up with his doggy poop bags. That’s what happened the other day, when Alex was away for the weekend. I took Angus outside earlier than usual, and upon reaching his usual pooping destination, he promptly squatted onto the ground and let loose a stinky mess right in the middle of a prickly bush. Of course, I tried as hard as I could to pick up after my dog, like a responsible and appropriate dog owner, but there was only so much I could do without hurting myself even more.

Taking Angus outside is always an experience. Being someone with perpetual anxiety, I always worry that we’ll bump into another dog and Angus will jump on them and make a mess in the apartment main lobby. Thankfully, that’s only happened a couple times and he’s gotten a bit better since we bought him a harness, but it’s still a concern of mine. Whether it’s human or dog, Angus will leap onto whoever seems the most interesting to him at any given time. When taking him outside, he tends to be a bit more excitable and interested in whoever is around him. He used to pull on the leash whenever cars or buses stormed through the streets, but he’s gotten much better at not doing that since we first adopted him.

Angus is the type of dog who loves attention, so much so that he’ll give off a little doggy moan from the couch if you leave him alone for too long. Alex and I used to think it meant he was tired, but now that we’ve had him for long enough, we’re convinced Angus just needs perpetual rubs to keep him from moaning during the day. And we provide the glorious body rubs for our boy, that’s for sure.

#143: The Internet

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When I’m not busy doing other things, I like to browse the Internet pretty aimlessly, as a way of occupying my time and filling my attention a bit. The Internet is a source of inspiration as well as a way of getting people to be interested in new things. Sometimes, I aimlessly scroll through the same websites over and over again, not really realizing what I’m doing until after I’ve looked at the same page three times in a row without anything updating on it. If you’re the kind of person who does the same thing, you probably know what I’m talking about when I say that, when I’m bored, my brain seems to turn off a bit and leave its senses out the window. The rational part of my mind is gone and occupied elsewhere.

It’s said that when you are browsing the Internet instead of doing other, more productive things you are looking and searching for something to occupy your attention, as if everything around you currently is unable to keep you occupied and this is the one option left on the table. I don’t know if I agree with that theory totally, but I do like the idea. Sometimes I feel as if, when I’m mindlessly browsing the Internet, I’m only doing it because I’m bored and have nothing else to do. But is it true that I actually have nothing else to do? Probably not. There’s always something more productive I can be doing to occupy my time.

Most of the time, though, when I’m on the Internet I’m looking on Reddit or Twitter. Those are the two websites I seem to check most frequently. They keep my attention firmly in place, which is saying something, because my attention usually never feels stable.

The Internet is an interesting, perplexing thing.

#74: The Crate

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Crating a dog is tough work. Like we said to Angus this morning, it hurts us more than it hurts him (at least, it seems that way.) Today, I have work from 8-4, and then I’m driving up to UCONN to visit one of my friends. Alex has her 10-6 shift, which means she’ll be getting home around 7:30. What this means is that Angus won’t be let outside for awhile, and he’ll have to hold in his bladder, considering we crated him at 8am. We haven’t tested his bladder’s capacity this long before. I feel a deep sympathy for our dog on days like today, when he’ll have to stay in an enclosed space for 12 hours. If he pees, he pees; it’s not like this will have to happen again, at least for another 6 months or so.

We don’t usually crate Angus. Ever since I conducted a short experiment while I was at the gym, Angus has roamed freely through the apartment while we’re gone. We trust him at this point, and he’s a good good boy, so there’s no real need to worry that he’ll get into anything or spoil our night when we come home. Angus knows what to do and when to do it. Unfortunately, today happens to be the day that our apartment’s drains and bathroom are being inspected. This is a routine inspection, happening throughout the entire building and on different days for different floors. In the email the leasing office sent to us, they stated that all pets needed to be properly crated so the inspectors wouldn’t be disturbed as they move from apartment to apartment. It’s an understandable request; Angus would likely bark their heads off and jump up on them like they’re strange intruders if we let him sit on the couch all day instead of crating him.

Needless to say, we feel terrible about crating old man Angus today. It’s still on my mind while I write this blog. I hope he’s doing well, and I hope he doesn’t despise us completely by the time we come back. Alex will be taking him out on a long walk around the park and building when she’s home, which I’m sure he’ll love, but in these hours leading up to that, I worry for him. Perhaps it’s just my anxiety speaking here. Here’s hoping all goes well and there’s nothing to worry about.

#61: The Wiki

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I had just finished reading a chapter in my witcher book, The Lash Wish, when I decided to do some research. One of the characters in the story, Calanthe, had some questionable actions in the chapter, and I wanted to look up this character further, maybe understand their backstory a bit better, hopefully lending the book a bit more of an emotional impact. But upon researching Calanthe’s Witcher Wiki page, I happened upon an unexpected, shocking realization involving the different characters and how they relate to one another. I won’t bother explaining the full story here, but essentially, one of the characters who was just introduced in the chapter was a character I had already met in the game version I am playing, but under a different name. This realization, borne from the Witcher Wiki’s thoroughness of research and spoiler-heavy contents, provided me with even more interest in this book, more than I already had for it, which is saying a lot. Though I was potentially spoiled on this key detail, I felt wholly invested in the new character’s story, thanks to the power of Wikis.

One of my favorite memories from childhood is playing Neopets online and in-person, as it connected all of us awkward fifth graders together in a small, but meaningful way. I remember learning about Neopets “lore” from the Neopets Wiki, and I remember learning about World of Warcraft lore through the WoWWiki. I learned about the origins of cards and planeswalkers in Magic: the Gathering thanks to their Wiki, and I’m able to keep up with Marvel movies primarily thanks to the writers of the Marvel Wiki. Needless to say, I love these encyclopedia pages, as they represent the great power and potential of the Internet, especially in a time when the Internet (and social media) are being used to deceive and infiltrate privacy. Wikis are a golden fruit among all the rotten garbage of the Internet.

The monkey picture has no real relation to this blog post, but I hope you enjoyed it.