September 13, 2021

I would really like to find a cozy cabin for some time this winter in an international dark sky area. I just want to bundle up and stare up in awe at the Milky Way with my naked eyes. I’ve never seen it before.

September 12, 2021

September 9, 2021

Are you in proximity to someone that you find impressive in some way? Do you admire some quality this person has?

Tell them. It will mean the world to them. They may not even know that anyone has noticed something they’re proud of, or may learn something new about themselves.

September 8, 2021

It is absolutely possible for a day of hard thinking work to generate the same exhaustion as hard physical work.

September 7, 2021

September 6, 2021

L’shana tova —for the second year running, I find myself desperate and pleading that we have a sweet year coming our way, this time, with a little less hope that this time next year will be “normal”. Still, I am grateful for many gifts in 5781.

A friend of mine passed away tragically a while back. I was reminded of her today. She is someone I could have used in my life lately. And I hate that she’s gone. I hate that I waited too long to reconnect once we lived closer to each other again. We always almost made plans.

September 5, 2021

No pictures— I was honestly too present to even consider taking one. Instead, here’s the evidence I took a couple of hours to walk a few miles in the woods. 1

Graph showing the decline of my resting heart rate significantly today versus the rest of the week.

  1. This is an image of my resting heart rate this week. [return]

September 4, 2021

Small kindnesses continue to have the most impact on me, yet my own energies and anxieties are focused on trying to orchestrate grander gestures.

This week I’m going to start worrying less about the big move and try and intentionally practice the small every day kindnesses.

September 3, 2021

Took advantage of the gorgeous weather yesterday with a short mid-day walk to what is possibly my favorite pandemic discovery in Baltimore, Druid Hill Park’s Zen Garden.

A short field with trees and stones in the background showing the outer part of Baltimore's zen garden

September 2, 2021

The cooler, sunny weather we’re experiencing is helping to recharge my batteries, which have been hovering in the single-digit-percents for a while.

September 1, 2021

I had an interaction at the gym this morning that made me realized how wonderful it is to live in a time where gender norms are less rigid, spaces are less gendered, and we can have social relationships that are not defined by gender.

Patriarchy harms everyone.

The most effective measures to reduce abortion are safe access to contraception and sex education. It’s not even close. If this was about reducing abortion and not about identity or enforcing a specific view on sexual morality, the right would have already claimed victory.

Trying to remember that being knocked back, hard, after making a lot of progress doesn’t have to mean defeat. I can find kindness for myself, reset, and begin again.

August 31, 2021

It’s happened often enough that I think I can firmly say that my taste in music is best described as, “interstitial music on Marketplace”.

In the early days of the internet, my hope was to be noticed. I wanted people to respond to a forum post. I wanted people to recognize my handle and know who I was and where I came from. I wanted to construct an identity among strangers that was meaningful and respected. I was a teenager, and what more does a teenager want than acceptance by peers and adults alike as a member? But there was another difference–I was speaking within a community of strangers.

During this time when I’m turning down the dial on social media feeds, I wonder: do I still want to be noticed? Frankly, being noticed seems to be a nightmare.

The goal is not to be noticed; the goal is to build community.

But it’s hard to build communities ontop of a globally shared commons. On the classic college quadrangle you might put down a blanket and stake out a spot under a tree with friends. You might setup a table for a club or group with signs and materials and goodies to attract others. You might be projecting loudly making a statement looking to net in passerbys. Social media believes that it is creating this type of public commons 1.

The problem is that social media is overcrowded, so the separation into smaller communities is hard to maintain. Worse than that, social media wants to be crowded. Social media makes its money when we’re jammed packed in just a few huge crowds. So the tools they provide on their platform are designed specifically to draw in bystanders and to amplify each individual voice so that it bleeds into every surrounding community. Everyone is close together, everyone is shouting, and everyone participates in simultaneously overlapping communities.

We don’t have “rooms” or “boards” or “channels”–we have the feed. I think this is a huge part of why Slack, Discord, and Twitch have found popularity for social use. They are designed to be smaller communities and they provide some organizational power within those communities to find a space on the quad where you can engage in exactly the activity you want. You can actually tell what community you’re trying to be a part of and gain acceptance through participating in what that community values.

What does my feed value? Why does anyone talk to me as an individual communicating across many non-overlapping communities that I want to be noticed by? How do I find my way into any of those spaces? And, importantly, in a world that feels increasingly isolated and lonely to me,2 how do I find a supportive community?

I used to defend the relationships I built online as “real”, scoffing at the idea that there was anything lesser about my “virtual” friends and community. I was right then. I couldn’t take that same stance about the internet we have now.

If my goal is to build community, I need to make that my project. The tools we have make participation wholly insufficient. I think I need to find ways to translate weak ties into meaningful bonds by taking the budding friendships and community out of the social commons. That may mean taking the step to find a way to meet in person, or getting an email address, or getting on a video call or something. Maybe it means finding a way to work together. But social media has taught me to collect as many weak ties as possible with no mechanism to bring them together into community.

  1. The more common analogy we hear is the “townsquare”, probably because it’s seen as less elitist than a college quad. But in the year 2021 and in the United States, none of us have really experienced that kind of townsquare. They don’t exist in our urban form, so they’re just not a helpful comparison. [return]
  2. Thanks, pandemic. [return]

Tonight I sent an email to a coworker with no external audience for like the second time in seven and a half years.

August 30, 2021

I just went through the process of installing Rogue Amoeba software on an M1 Mac. This kernel extension security setup is a total mess.