Watching / Listening / Reading (January 2018)

Some stuff I’ve enjoyed lately (as with last time, these are in no particular order, and not necessarily just recent stuff):

Atlanta Monster (Podcast): Granted I was a toddler at the time, but I’d somehow never heard about this fascinating case

The Post (Movie): All-around fantastic and important, and it even included a Mr. Show reunion

Waco (TV): So far, so good, especially since you know I’m not gonna pass up any cult-related offerings

Ogilala (Album): Nice album from my favorite Big Thunder Mountain Railroad passenger

Nothing But Trouble (Movie): I had dim memories of how super dark, weird and horrible this was, but re-watching it really brought the magic back

American History Tellers (Podcast): An interesting new series that starts with an extended Cold War arc

The Thin Blue Line (Movie): I’d somehow never watched this, and was really captivated (enough that I’m now going on a bit of an Errol Morris binge)

Hysteria (Album): One of my favorites growing up, and now available to stream thanks to Def Leppard working through some shenanigans

My Next Guest Needs No Introduction (TV): I mean, duh

Fire and Fury (Book): Again, duh

Zodiac (Movie): I’m fairly sure I’d seen this back in the day, but man is it fantastic

Texture (Magazines): Really enjoying this service for access to tons of magazines on tablet or phone, my favorites generally being Entertainment Weekly, Wired, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Time and Vanity Fair

Lowering The Social Volume

Man, what a couple of years. Despite the fact that we’re living in a never-ending Black Mirror episode, one of the upsides of America now being fully great again is that the circumstances have caused me to take a much-overdue look at the role of social media in my life.

Some things I found troubling:

  • I’d see people post and share sketchy (and even dangerous) misinformation, stubbornly refusing to educate themselves on valid journalistic sources. Fun times!
  • In the case of Facebook specifically, I’d feel a general sense of dread before viewing my feed, then often feel worse having done so.
  • I’d find myself compulsively posting about my offline activities like a junkie, then I’d hop between various services only to find others doing the same thing. I sustained this behavior for a long time, but 2017 finally broke me.

As a result, I’ve made the following changes:

  • I’ve generally stopped using Facebook. My account is still open to let me peek in, remain contactable and view messages in private groups, but I’ve deleted the mobile app and stopped cross-posting content from other services. It’s been lovely. I’m still generally a fan of their Instagram product, and despite its many issues, I remain madly in love with Twitter.
  • I’ve stopped using Snapchat entirely. It’s goofy and fun generally, but seeing variations of the same stories over and over again became tiresome, and Instagram is picking their features apart pretty rapidly at this point. I’m also super old, so really I was generally just embarrassing myself.
  • I’ve stopped “checking in” to movies and TV shows I was watching, as this was absurd. For those that are interested (or looking for recommendations), I’ll be doing periodic digest posts here.
  • Like a former smoker chewing lots of gum, I’ve started funneling some of the “gotta check” social media urges into healthier pursuits, including meal tracking, quick at-home workouts and meditation.
  • I’m done with pointless online arguments with unwavering Trump supporters, especially those that try to reconcile their position with Christianity. I try to be kind, open and willing to talk, but as Jesus said: “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.” The slow, multi-decade merger of right-wing media with evangelicalism has turned a large portion of Americans into frogs unaware (or unwilling to admit) that the pot they’ve jumped into has been slowly boiling them. I sincerely pray for God to soften their hearts and let them be open to productive (if uncomfortable) conversations.

Major thanks to my wife, who has had her own struggles with this stuff, and has been a much-needed sounding board/ray of light in this wild, MAGA-fied universe.

Personal Vault

I’ve been posting stuff on the Internet for longer than I’d care to admit. Every few years I have a small breakdown and dramatically switch to another publishing tool or platform, often killing the past in true Kylo Ren fashion.

As of this writing, I’m pretty happy with my streamlined “only Twitter, Instagram and Medium” online presence [August 2020 Update: This is now primarily this site and a few other places], but for anyone interested in wandering down memory lane, I thought I’d point you in the right direction(s)…

Facebook (2006–2020) [August 2020 Update: Now exists just to point the Facebook crowd to content from this site and my newsletter]

Tumblr (2009–2017) [August 2020 Update: This has been cleaned up and reborn]

Blogger (2000–2009) [August 2020 Update: Now living happily at a farm upstate]

Screenshots From Prehistoric Times (‘90s-Early ’00s):