Lurking: The addiction to online subcultures

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Hello, you might remember over the past two years I blocked all politics from my social media only to add them back in moderation a year and a half later, I added them back in slowly and with a lot of cation. I only allowed certain people back into my space, and that’s because before hand, I became completely consumed in the Twitter subculture surrounding my political party.

And yikes, did it rewire my brain.

I don’t think we talk enough about what the sub-cultures can do, and not just the political ones but the intense niche interests ones as well. Fans become toxic online, which is why I’ve always warned against becoming a “stan”. These cultures are completely addictive. We like to say that we are just addicted to the site. “Oh, I’m addicted to Twitter” sounds a lot better than “I’ve addicted to a small community with extreme views on sexual kinks”. I’ve never fallen into one of those communities, but I know they’re there and have force online.

They’re all over the place, extreme little groups that have very strong opinions on everything from religious extremists to complete anarchists. They are all there, and they are all trying to take root in your brain.

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Practicing your habits and creating pathways.

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I’ve been working the last three weeks on minimizing my screen time. I’m not doing great at it if I’m being honest, I’m still on social media a lot. I work online and I spend a chunk of my down time online. I like feeling informed and I work in marketing, of course I like consuming media!

But in this process, though I haven’t gotten rid of a ton of screen time, I have been spending more time on my hobbies. I’ve been seeing the horse more for longer stretches of time. I might get online afterwards, but the extra farm time counts for something when it comes to my goals and it counts as a lot when it comes to my mental health.

Even slight improvements turn into bigger strides. I’ve read a number of books on forming habits, and I can’t remember which one it came from, but a book introduced me to a new way of thinking about habits. You have to practice them like you do your skills. Even small steps are setting up links in your brain, creating pathways so next time you take another step you can build out even more. Practicing your habits. It’s not that novel of a concept, but as someone who always thought about habits as complete reforms it gave me an insight to how I could realistically improve.

Small steps, always moving forward. I can do that.

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Toxic Gossip.

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You know that famous quote “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people“? I think about that quote a lot, maybe more than normal, but I think it’s true. Not because everyone who talks about people are small minded, but because the action of talking about people slowly makes you more small minded. You begin to look for things to gossip about. You begin to feed on the drama.

I’ve noticed a few people in my life fall down this rabbit hole, or perhaps they were always in it and by hanging out with them I started to trip into it as well. Regardless I noticed the need to talk about people chip away at me. It was only one or two people, but the need was still there, and no matter how those people did me wrong, it wasn’t justifiable to talk about them, because I wasn’t hurting them, I was hurting me.

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Enjoy things you’re bad at.

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I’m one of those people who get frustrated when they don’t immediately become good at which ever hobby they pick up. I guess I didn’t used to be this way, because all the hobbies that I have now I was pretty bad at towards the start. But lets be real- at seven or nine I probably thought I was pretty good at things even when I was doing quite terrible at them.

I’ve struggled to pick up hobbies as an adult because of this though. I don’t like the idea of failure, even though it isn’t technically failure to be bad while you’re learning. It just feels that way. I get stuck in ruts because of it.

It’s different at work, because it’s required, but on my own free time I don’t want to deal with being bad at things. It’s been this way for a long time. But as I was singing in the shower the other day I remembered how awful of a singer I was, and I laughed, because I sing around people all the time. It doesn’t matter to me then that I’m always off tune and should never try to hit the high notes. I just do it, because it makes me happy. Music makes me happy and singing when the music stops makes me happy.

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Hard times create strong men.

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“Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times.”

― G. Michael Hopf, Those Who Remain

I came across this quote a while ago on Twitter. It struck a cord with me, because it’s true. We live in a constant cycle. I’ve talked about this in terms of mental health before, about how you have to stick through the bad and it’s terrible, but good always follows. There is a natural rhythm to life, some of it comes without outside help, but I think that a lot of it does come from the kind of things we indured.

We get lazy when things are good, we don’t work as hard, we don’t put our nose to the grindstone, we get comfortable and that comfort puts us at a disadvantage. The opposite is true for hard times. To survive we’ve got to give it everything we have and by doing that we tend to start an upswing. I know it’s not always this simple, but hardly anything in life is. This is a generalization,  but I think its a good one.

I also think that most people would agree with me when I state that right now we are in the middle of hard times. We have cities on fire, a global pandemic, economic collapse, rapid injustice, government overreach, massive unemployment, breaks in the supply chain. I could go on, but lets just stop and say that we aren’t doing so great right now, both as a nation and for most, as individuals. It’s hard to see an upside to this. There might not be an upside to the actual events, but there is one when it comes to how we grow through them.

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The balance in romantic relationships:

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I was having problems getting a new hard drive that my laptop warranty afforded me. They said it would be to me in two days. Three weeks later and three calls later it had been returned to the warehouse according to the tracker but not according to the company that sent it to me. I was beyond frustrated so I handed it over to my husband, who made one very stern and angry phone call and it was on my porch the next day. Magic! But also one of the reasons we work so well together.

He picks up on the areas I lack and I pick up on areas he lacks. I’ve talked about how all good relationships are partnerships, but it goes beyond that. It’s about finding a partner who can pick up were you let down. It’s magic when you can find someone who helps make your household more rounded. I’m not saying it should be your only goal in love, obviously there are a ton of factors that come into play when it comes to falling in love and getting married, but there is something to say about the dynamics between male and female, ying and yang, critical thinker and creative thinker.

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Using the pandemic as a tool to better ourselves after it ends:

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This whole pandemic came at a bad time. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by it, the kind of overwhelmed that makes you able to stare blankly at a wall for an hour. Yeah, you know the type.

I’ve been trying to combat it, in some ways I’m doing the things that I would do to try and fight of my depressive episodes, which is pulling out all of my coping mechanisms and making sure I’m doing the things that bring me joy, but this one has also included a lot of self reflection.

Obviously my short-term goals have changed, but not having anything to do has led me to think about what all I want to do and what is most important in my long-term plans. The change of routine has made me think that maybe my routine needs to be changed permanently. Not to this state of nothing, but to something different than it was before.

The fact is I liked the change at first, I liked being knocked off my rocker. I didn’t like the impending doom, but I thought that the change might bring something positive, and I think it still might. Certainly the pandemic itself is a negative, but there can always be a silver lining, and I think there is. I think the world as a whole is going to come out more thoughtful. We’ve been given so much time to think, we’ve been given so much time to care. I think we’re going to use both these things to our advantages.

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Being a “stan” is unhealthy.

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Fandoms can get us through some rough times, they can be our light when we have trouble finding one. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t enjoy things and enjoy them well, I’m just saying that there is a threshold people pass where it starts to get unhealthy fast.

Maybe it isn’t safe to say, but celebrities aren’t your friends, characters aren’t your friends, and honestly we’ve turned celebrities and characters into one of the same. I’m not saying that you can’t find refuge and comfort in them, but I am saying that you need to be focused on your outside life and outside relationships more than you focus on your fandoms. Being a fan isn’t bad for you, focusing all your energy on it instead of what’s going on in your actual life is.

The fact of the matter is we all get wrapped up in things that aren’t relevant to our daily lives, whether it be a fandom or marathoning too much reality TV, we get swept away in these universes. I get it, I’m a writer. I get swept up in my own universe often, but you need to be able to leave it behind and go about your day without it. You need to be able to function and be happy if a band breaks up or if the character dies in the last movie.

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