Life Update, March 2023
Table of contents
Hi there! I don’t plan on posting stuff under the “personal” category of this site very often, but I figured this needs to live somewhere, and I don’t really engage on many social platforms anymore, so….here we are.
Strap in, folks, this is a pretty long post.
Or…if you don’t feel like reading the backstory, the summary is basically: I cut off contact with most people for three years for reasons, and now I’m kinda getting back to a better place and hoping to start reconnecting with folks again…but not via social media!
The last four years
The last four years have been a real journey, most of which I’ll keep to myself, but broadly speaking; a bunch of personal mental health, financial, and family issues all began to converge in my life around mid-2019, and then COVID happened, which just amplified everything. I’ve spent most of the last 3-4 years living in a bit of a “hermit cave” lifestyle, some for good reasons and some for bad ones…in any case, I’m now trying to find a healthy way out of that to some sort of “new normal”.
But it’s certainly a NEW normal…not back to the old normal. Things have definitely changed.
I know a lot of people have been talking about the mental health toll of the global pandemic we’ve all been living through, and that’s certainly been something I’ve struggled with, like everyone else.
For me though, I was also struggling with mental health issues even before the pandemic hit, without even fully realising it. A lot of things were going off the rails, but I wasn’t really on top of dealing with it, and it just snowballed.
Oddly enough, COVID in Australia ultimately helped me. Despite the awfulness of a global pandemic, and the fact that most of my direct family is extremely vulnerable, a bunch of things happened that were positive for me personally - the increased attention on mental health in Australia, the financial support provided, and being forced to stop and stay in the one place for a while all helped me to get a grapple on what I was dealing with, and I managed to figure some things out.
Well, eventually anyway. 😅
One of the things that happened with my mental health early on in 2020 was I just couldn’t handle talking to people, especially online for some reason. I got to the point where I had trouble even opening Slack for work related stuff - it’d basically trigger an anxiety response of sorts, and I just….avoided it all. As a result, I ended up cutting off or letting go of most social connections, even with those I’m closest to.
I think I’ve mostly worked through these issues now, although I still shy away from large group chats. I’m also still working on rebuilding connections and figuring out how to stay in touch with people. It’s definitely a Work In Progress.
One thing that’s made it more complicated to re-connect with people is that I’ve consciously chosen not to re-engage with most of the commercial social media platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, and Twitter. I’ll write a separate post about this in Musings; it’s a complicated topic and in some ways I’m still figuring out how I feel about it. But the bottom line is I won’t be going back to any social media that has any kind of commercial incentives other than paying customers (i.e. advertising to fund the platform). If that means I pay for the social media I do use, I’m happy to - for now, you’ll only find me on Mastodon via [email protected] Fosstodon instance.
I don’t have many other ways to stay in touch with a large number of friends spread around the globe, so ditching social has been a tough call to make. But I’ve reached the conclusion that at least for now, I’m not prepared to contribute my content and my engagement toward the commercial success of those businesses.
Chat, Forums, and other online communities
Applications like Discord, Telegram, Slack, and online forums of various kinds are less of an issue…but to be honest, my engagement on those is pretty limited too. In some cases, I’m not a fan of the companies that own the platform - e.g. I use WhatsApp very reluctantly, because it’s impossible to function in some countries and professionally without it.
For other chat apps, I just don’t really enjoy the firehose of chat messages and discussions. I’d rather curate the things I’m reading and focus a little more. That having been said…I’ll check DMs on most chat apps that I have an account on. Most of the time. Probably.
If you read this and haven’t heard from me lately, it might be that I want to get in touch but haven’t been able to figure out where to get in touch, or just haven’t worked myself up to it yet. Feel free to reach out! I’ll try to reply back at least, even if it takes me a little while to properly connect and reach out.