About a week ago, I decided to stop opening Twitter. I had no intention of making this a permanent practice, nor was I aiming to be one of those “I cut social media out of my life and now I feel so much better” kind of personal interest stories.
Since the COVID situation began, I’ve been taking time to dive deeper into my own interests, seeing as how I’ve been afforded a more…comfortable situation, let’s say. I’ve spent time learning more about photography, have gotten better at 3D modeling, and have started projects in TTRPG campaign creation, digital art, and development. While I had made headway in all of these areas, I am plagued by two specific quirks: Why, and How.
Why? is always a question of “why am I doing this?” The notion of some kind of endgame for an education is something that seems to be at the forefront of my mind when tackling a project. Usually it comes in the form of questioning whether or not I want to distribute the results. The question of “is this good enough?” comes to the fore, and no matter how hard I work on a project, the answer is almost always “no”. I might post info on my work, or an example, but I liken this strategy to placing the work on the curb as opposed to trying to get it shown in a place where it belongs. I posted images of my 3D work to Twitter, for example, but did not create an account on a 3D modeling community site. On social media I am one person among many, sharing one interest among many, but on a community site I would be one among many sharing one interest period, and I would be the least of those who deserve to be there. I hit a wall with my TTRPG project because I realized that no one would ever play this. My time as a GM is over, having wasted my previous efforts and burned a lot of bridges as a result, and I can’t really be bothered to just put the work out there for others to use, considering I was never even sure what the hell I was creating in the first place. With this kind of thinking over my head I just can’t find a meaningful reason to do something, even if I never had any intention of releasing a project for public consumption.
The How? is usually a circumstance I encounter when trying to learn something. There are dozens upon dozens of outlets which will help a person get started with a project or hobby. There are significantly fewer places where one can find how to tackle what’s beyond. When getting back into Blender, I was buried in tutorials explaining the UI, what a primitive is, and how to do a loop cut, but I couldn’t really find the same level of instruction on texturing or lighting, for example. There were a few, but they were generally behind paywalls, or focused not on the concepts behind such things, but on doing one specific thing. Sure, under those exact, controlled circumstances, a knowledgeable user could perform the task on display without issue, but instruction on the Internet is filled with people who know what they’re doing performing flawlessly and forgetting that the audience they are talking to knows nothing that they do, and doesn’t have the ancillary problem solving skills in this area for when something inevitably doesn’t work the way it does in the video. That usually results in several trips to the Internet to search for today’s very specific problem, and if you’ve ever tried to solve a problem by visiting a specialist forum, then you’re no doubt aware that many people have little to no patience for questions asked by those who have only just completed one of the billions of beginner tutorials out there and have no other recourse except to ask the experts. This kind of roadblock — or not even being able to have a community to ask, or an answer to find — happens to me every single time I take on a project in a new area. Every. Single. Time. It’s disheartening, and while I’d feel much better having a community I felt comfortable with to fall back on to answer such questions — i.e. the social media circles I usually run in — I don’t have that.
This situation came to a head about a week ago across every single one of my projects, and I felt completely paralyzed, disgusted, and depressed about literally everything I was doing and how I was doing it. I cancelled my supporting subscriptions, mothballed my files, and uninstalled many apps.
Where the sabbatical idea came from, I don’t entirely know. As part of my general slash-and-burn, I contemplated closing my Twitter account as well. I think that I wasn’t feeling any kind of support from my social connections, and I admit that I don’t know how to go about asking for support from my social connections, because I don’t really know how to give support to my social connections. That’s a ball of twine that just felt better with an Irish Goodbye for a while. I don’t know that I blamed Twitter for contributing to my general disgust with my other hobbies, considering that Twitter has almost zero impact on those hobbies, but I suppose a “scorched earth” state of mind can be an indiscriminate net.
I don’t feel anxious about missing out on what’s going on, I can say that. Most of my Twitter time was spent watching other people interact around me, but rarely with me. My own contributions as of late, and historically, haven’t been entirely of substance which I believe leads others to interact with me in similar ways. I felt that I couldn’t be serious when I needed to be serious because people always assumed I was being a wise-ass. My best interactions always came from someone else’s conversation which meant I was always an interloper, sometimes among people who I suspect have no love for me. Even my blog posts became fewer and far between, focusing on less editorial content because I have a suspicion that throughout the years my writing style may have made some people indifferent to anything I might have to say, ever. It’s hard to convince people otherwise when it’s so easy to be ignored among a sea of better prospects.
What I have noticed is that I am more bored now than anything else. Having cut literally all of my projects out of my life at the same time — Twitter included — means that I have a lot of free time. I’ve been spending more time watching TV, which horrifies me as it’s a completely passive affair (though I did finally finish Westworld). I’m also reading, of course, but that’s not exactly a thrilling prospect that I look forward to at this stage in my life. I’ve been trying to exercise, but that’s been hit or miss as this commute-less work day means I’ve been staying up later since I don’t have to get up as early the next day, and the result is still that I’m tired all day. I haven’t been gaming much as I’m not sure what I’m looking for. While my friends still play The Division 2 as hardcore as the day it was released, I’ve installed and uninstalled dozens of games in several genres and can’t seem to be interested in sticking with anything I have. Although I’ve written a lot of posts about Crayta last week, I think that ship has sailed — compliments of that “one specific unsolvable problem” situation I mentioned above.
Twitter was always a kind of low-rent hobby. I could scroll through other people’s lives, get info, watch some funny videos…and then move on with my life. I never needed it to be there, apparently, but it’s a conspicuous absence in this time of absence. My plan is to stay offline until the end of July, at least, incase there is a detox period that’s needed, so we’ll see how that goes. Right now I don’t find myself gravitating towards any abandoned projects as the whole “why do this if no one is going to see it/use it/know about it?” feeling is still in effect. Life goes on, though, and we go on with it.