I completely understand that it’s important to draw traffic to my website. I don’t have social media. I don’t try to sell myself. I forget that I have this blog sometimes. But I know how important it is to update your blog.
I started my website off with a bang, posting as often as possible and announcing on social media with links so people could read them. Traffic was more than double it is now. I was receiving comments and building steam. Blogging is a nice draw. But if you slack you lose traction and its so easy to slack.
When I left social media last year, I knew my traffic would go down even further. I had a meager amount of followers but they were mostly high school friends and family and so I think they were clicking through to my website just to see what I was up to. But my mental health meant way more than clicks. Social media just isn’t for me.
I needed to focus last year, right around this time, on things that were more important than whatever the shitty thing Trump had said or done. When I stepped away from it I felt more liberated than I had expected. I was focused on moving my family across the country and to do so we needed to get rid of everything we owned. It was a difficult time. But the absence of social media and the eventual absence of pretty much everything we owned taught me something invaluable.
I finally realized the things that are most important to me. I don’t mean my family and health, but the things outside of the obvious that I wanted to be focused on. Writing a third novel, writing new music, and fishing was all I came up with. I truly love those things and I wanted to get rid of everything that didn’t help me focus on those 3. Social media has no place in there. Picking up extra writing jobs to get by lines has no place in there.
I got to the West and the first few month were pretty rocky. But I have since settled in with the fam and been more focused than ever.
What’s amazing to me, coming from the east coast, is the amount of homeless individuals there are here. The reasons are varying, depending on who you talk to and what side of the aisle they vote on, but the reason doesn’t change the truth.
New York City has had a gradual increase in homelessness almost every year since stats on the subject have been recorded. Manhattan and it’s surrounding boroughs have sharply climbed in homeless numbers over the past 5 years as did Seattle. The issues can be attributed to Democratic or Socialist or Republican matters, but again it doesn’t change anything. That’s just finger pointing and blaming.
In Seattle, the homeless shamelessly camp on city sidewalks and in public parks. It’s completely legal since it’s public grounds. This may or may not be true in New York City, but I don’t have to look it up, because there are 2 huge differences between the streets of New York and the streets of Seattle that make why homelessness feels like a bigger issue here in the Emerald City.
Before those differences, it’s interesting to point out that the total number of homeless in New York City is around 66,000. In Seattle it’s about 12,000. Not surprisingly, these are almost the same percentage of individuals, approximately .03% of the population. Without looking into every other major American city, I would imagine this to be true across the country. It’s a product of the general population of America. Certain people refuse to take their medication, some people have fallen on seriously hard time, and others have let their addictions rule their life.
But Seattle FEELS different. The homeless here don’t try and hit you up with stories like they do in DC (my sister is in the hospital and I’m trying to get bus fare) and they don’t accost you like they do in New York, shaking a cup of change in your face and making you feel guilty. They just kind of hover about, signs adorned, or sometimes leaning against the bench next to them, too weak to even bother holding it. You can feel their lost dreams, lost among the brackish sloughs of Puget Sound.
The two main differences between New York and Seattle are vehicles and violence. In New York City, many people don’t even own a car. Walking is a main transportation option. People are out constantly walking many blocks from their home to shops, work, or other appointments. You tend to live and work close by and your doctors and other appointments tend to be close by. You become near and dear to your neighborhood.
There’s a lot of driving in the Emerald City. It’s a newer city and lots of complexes and other communal style living situations have parking, which allows for more cars. Without walking you don’t necessarily have to come face to face with as many homeless folks. There isn’t the strong need for public transportation, eliminating spots where people can congregate. So it seems like there’s more homeless because the city is small. The areas like Pike’s Place Market where people congregate are fewer, leading to more homeless to be concentrated in areas where people are guaranteed to be walking.
This leads to the violence part. When you feel territorial about your neighborhood, if someone without a home made a tent out of found items on your block, the tendency in New York City to get that person to leave is much higher. I one time witnessed a woman of small stature get harassed by a homeless man of much bigger stature in New York City. She turned and punched him in the face, knocking him on his ass. I haven’t spent as much time downtown Seattle as I have in New York, but this doesn’t feel like a west coast thing to do.
It’s so laid back as compared to New York, that the violence from residents just seemingly doesn’t exist. For someone who has lived here their whole life they may feel different, but the vibe to me is true. I feel that the homeless feel like more of a problem here because the residents of the city aren’t necessarily going to take action to get rid of them (at least on “their” block).
The reasons still don’t change the truth. There are homeless people. Lots of them. America in general lacks the programs to identify and assist individuals who may have mental health problems. Instead of addressing the issue, we blame Democrats or Republicans, City Council or the Mayor, or the lady up the street who feels bad enough to make some of them dinner, and wait around for someone else to fix the problems that we ourselves have created.
How did we create homelessness? Being part of this whacky machine called America is the problem. It is one for all and all for one here. Every day is a grind and all of us are just trying to scrape by daily. The wealth gap is growing, at this point, exponentially, and taxing the rich more won’t do a damn thing unless we convince them by doing so will somehow make them MORE money. What were doing is standing on one side of the aisle and screaming for change, just like the homeless we can’t stand to see. The truth is we know how close we are to being in their shoes and it’s simply to much to bear.
Most of the research you read says you should have a niche as a freelance writer. I had no clue what category I wanted myself to be in the last few years so I bounced around between sports, arts, and local.
But none of it felt like something that I could stick with long term until I realized that everything had a common theme. I realized I was trying to define this country with my words no matter the topic and everything came out as if I was toying around with what it is to be American, to feel American and to live in America. Oddly enough It all felt so foreign, as if I was an innocent outside bystander constantly looking in.
I tried to be non-partial, I tried to simply tell a story as if I was a from another planet but it was way too difficult. I couldn’t see this country as anything other than how a typical American sees themselves; proud, tough, gritty, and outspoken.
One day when I was sitting there at the picnic table in my backyard waiting for the grill to warm up, I suddenly had a strange and outrageous thought that I had never had before. I suddenly found myself questioning everything I know. And I mean absolutely everything. Maybe it’s the disinformation age we’re currently living in that brought me to this thought, but what if everything I know about America is actually wrong.
What if history is, as most of us view it, completely revisionist.
Maybe everything that ever happened just seems so much more principled, astute, and well planned because those who retell it decided it that way. Maybe everything is just completely made up in some half ass attempt to cover up some wicked truth.
I couldn’t make the connection. How could I convince someone that this was true if I couldn’t convince myself of it? It wasn’t like I could look something up in a history book, that’s what I supposedly couldn’t believe in anymore. I sat there for a long while trying to come up with a way to test my theory in a subtle way, one that attacked the fabric of society but not directly America itself. The grill got hot.
I decided to attack Peyton Manning and I wrote an article that suggested that he was a lying scumbag.
What happened after that article was published was truly amazing. Something that I honestly didn’t see coming. Absolutely no one agreed with me. And I mean no one. I got hate mail. My twitter blew up with people hoping that I could casually get hit by a bus or get blown up by a bomb and right then and there I knew I was on to something.
It reminded me of the time in college when in the common area, on a big screen TV, they were showing Forest Gump. I decided to go just to make fun of the movie, out loud. I got thrown out in about thirty minutes. No one thought making fun of that movie was funny. But why?
Going against the grain just because you can, is just being anti for no reason and that’s pretty annoying. But it’s really the most American thing you can possibly do. Status quo and this country do not belong in the same sentence. We were once the global misanthropes, the dreamers, the hell raisers. Some of us sent here, some came here seeking change, others were just plain hellions. And that’s what I wanted to be, a hellion, a rebel, a punk, a goddamn outspoken misanthrope. I wanted to purposely bring the antithesis, I wanted to go out of my way to hate Forest Gump, I wanted to be what I thought America was. The attention, however negative at times, emboldened me, and I started craving more.
I wanted to go out of my way to hate Forest Gump
But I quickly found out that it wasn’t enough to incite. I wanted it to be deeper than that, to explore something, and get minds moving. What I didn’t want to be was Kent State Gun Girl or some other flash in the pan Instagram hack job. While at first it was the attention that I craved, it didn’t last, and I started to feel hopeless.
But there was that longing feeling, the one where I felt like I touched something, something real, it was ephemeral but it was so real. It was an American nerve, and what I wanted to do was follow it, not agitate it.
I wanted to follow it to the epicenter, one sentence at a time, one project after another, until I found something. I was let go from that writing job a few months later, but it didn’t deter me. In fact, I’m probably more in debt to that group than anything for allowing me to speak my mind and to find the nerve I wanted to follow. So, thanks to Dan McAuliffe, wherever you are, and Wai Sallas, too.
So here I am. Following along the nerve path, desperately trying to find what I’m going to call the American Dream through arts and culture, through writing, through connecting, through being an out spoken American, an extroverted misanthrope.
There’s a myth that continues to swarm about how certain groups of people are entitled to their position in life. The rich are entitled to everything. The poor are entitled not to work. The left is entitled to feel entitled. The right is entitled because of money. The Millennials are entitled because they’re self-absorbed. The Boomers are entitled because they worked their ass off.
The myth is that one group or generation is actually entitled. Everyone says each group is but no group actually feels that way. Instead they feel that another group is more entitled than themselves and so the myth continues.
It’s sad really. That we all have something in common but don’t stop to realize it.
Life is good. We all can be OK. Whether you are rich or poor, democrat or republican, or whatever you are you probably need a hand. We all need a hand. Some people need it monetarily. Others just simply need a hug. Some might need a meal. One needs medical care, the other a light for their smoke.
This is a diverse and strange country. The people of the mountains of Montana don’t face the same daily obstacles as the people living in Stuyvesant. But as great as their lives might both be, they still might need something that the other can provide. It’s the way the universe works. No one thing is complete without another.
We as humans aren’t complete without plants and animals, to eat, to breathe, to love. Some need to eat more animals than love. Others eat no animals and only love. That’s okay. No one is right because you still need each other to balance out. The person who eats only animals is balanced by the person who only loves animals. Maybe those two get together and figure out world peace. First, get together.
It’s a myth to think that we’ll someday have a collective realization, stop hating each other, and actually help one another. World peace is a myth. Big Foot is probably more likely to be sighted than someone dropping their manufactured hate to take stock in humanity and just enjoy that we are all people. The myth is that me sitting here writing this might inspire someone, anyone, to do that.
Yet the hope meanders on. All that negativity and yet there is hope. Hope is not a myth. I have hope and I know others who also have hope. Hope can be heavy. Sometimes we drop it. Other times we carry it along when we probably shouldn’t. Hope can be carried along and we don’t even know it.
No one person or group is entitled to something more than another. We’re just people, that’s it that’s all. To see it in another way is taxing. To manufacture hate for someone else’s perceived entitlement is hard. It takes a lot of energy, energy that could be used to laugh. Energy that could be used to help someone who needs it.
Or maybe we’re just animals meant to compete for time, money, and space. Grueling over our daily tasks to make a bed in the grass and lie down, our bellies stuffed and our minds at rest. Maybe we’re meant to hate what seems entitled because our path must be harder than everyone else’s. Maybe we’re meant to hate what doesn’t look like us, what we see in the mirror, the ghostly imperfections and deep dark circles around our eyes, imagining all that entitlement that everyone else has, stewing in our growing manufactured hatred for everything that isn’t “us” and feeding the myth.
I was at a dinner party recently when someone almost 10 years younger than me exclaimed, “There’s no way I’m in the millennial generation. I didn’t have a cell phone until I was 16!” It was not received as anything but truth. Everyone agreed.
It had a profound impact on me. I left that party depressed, irritated, and sick to my stomach, despite the fantastic food.
If you were born between the years of 1981 and 1996, you’re a millennial. And it’s a soft border, meaning you might be a millennial if you are born on either cusp. The millennial generation has an odd and bizarre stigma attached to it that is more historically repetitious than accurate. But what that comment from the person at the dinner party illuminates is the control that the previous generation has over millennials. And it’s not Gen X, it’s the Boomers, the only other generation that has equal number of people enveloped inside and they feel threatened as every previous generation of Americans has felt since the 1600’s.
The first Jamestown colony on the New Land that Britain had acquired in what is now Virginia was largely a bust. No crop other than tobacco had grown successfully there and England’s premier tobacco provider was still Spain. Spanish tobacco couldn’t be overthrown by a successor until the King decided to make an announcement that the tobacco from the New Land was much better. This was in an effort to revive his investment and the marketing worked.
As production had to increase the workers that were sent to Jamestown in the first place needed help. They wrote to the King to send some new workers. The King, resourceful as ever, sent a younger generation there, in order to ensure that the farm system was taught to a new group, sustaining his investment long term. Not long after their arrival the letters started pouring back in to him.
The colonists wrote that the new batch of young workers he sent were lazy, unable to be trained, didn’t listen, and were practically no help. This began the American way of complaining about the next generation in order to preserve your own dignity and posterity, as a new batch of individuals is sent to take over.
My grandfather thought my dad’s generation was a bunch of lazy long haired, pot smoking hippies who were glued to their hi- fi stereos. They were, but they also were catalysts for change, ushering in an era where people stood together for what is right. Protests formed for peace, equal rights, and individuality around the country. These are the same baby boomers who are now repressing and propagandizing the Millennials in the same way that they were by the Traditionalist or the Silent Generation.
Make no mistake, not everything since the 1600’s is repetition. This current generation grew up in a socially different time that causes more time in front of a screen than in front of anything else. But what is seldom argued is that the Millennial generation’s world is the world, they grew up inherently global and so there views seem so completely different because they are the first generation to see what they want to see, have all information just a click away and seem generally accepting of all types of people regardless where they are from.
Much in the same way the baby boomer generation was ridiculed by their parents for spending far too much time and energy on rock and roll, radio, and television, this new generation is on their phone. The older generations didn’t grow up with things “going viral” and that term has a negative feel to it, and they themselves find they spend far too much time on their phones and on social platforms. If it’s addicting to them, it must be more addicting to the younger generation because they simply have less experience.
But it’s just not true. It’s always been in our hands and so we adapted much quicker. The issue isn’t addiction from the younger generation, but actually from the older. 62% of Facebook users are over 35, 20% is in the Millennial Generation, and 10% is over 65. All of these generations have had social media the same amount of time. And the numbers are actually pretty similar. The only exception being television. Millennials don’t watch TV they stream off their tablets, phones, and computers. Gen X and the Boomers still watch a few hours of TV every night.
Somehow the TV screen is lost in translation when compared to the cell phone screen.
The Millennials are the first generation to make inclusivity a priority, renewable energy a reality, and social media a tool. These initiatives were largely thought of by a previous generation that wanted to make things better for the next generation, but has now become irate and jealous that it is becoming a possibility. Fabricating things to complain about the next generation is a silly way to show support. But maybe a few of us will use that chip on our shoulder to break the rules all over again.
But how about instead of ridicule there is general support? What if we all worked together instead of drawing a line in the sand of who is right and who is wrong?
The Millennials themselves will be the first to try and weasel out of being part of their own generation. Where does that come from? Handed down from the previous generation trying to prove that their worth is still a worth. If you were born between 1981 and 1996 and you are saying that you are not a millennial you are only being beholden to the previous generations who paved the way and now have shackled you to a slower rate of growth, to their fears, and to their shadows disappearing as the sun sets. You’re buying into 400 years of historically repetitious inaccuracies fueled by tradition instead of truth.
Time to unshackle.
2018 marks the first year we could have a Millennial as president. Young leaders are being elected already. Justin Trudeau of Canada is 46 and Emanuel Macron is 40. The Millennial Generation is now larger than the Baby Boomers and that number will continue to grow larger as the years go by. We are in control. Not monetarily, but in populous and that means that we can start to dictate the direction of this great nation.
If you are already using phrases like “the kids these days” and “back in the day” you are already cementing into place the same repression and historical inaccuracies that previous generations put in place. But it’s not supportive and won’t help us all out long term. The younger generations should use their time and effort to connect with the older generation, to learn where certain things went wrong, and where things went right and accept that wisdom and learn. If everyone was willing to work together we could all be part in making the future of this great nation much brighter.
As long as everyone puts their phones down long enough to listen.