My brain is on rebound from extraverting all weekend. My Third Capricon was a BLAST, but experience will get its own post a bit later, after I’ve had time to sift through impressions and let them settle. Right now all I have to offer are a couple of Thinky Thoughts.
One observation gleaned from cleaning out my Facebook post closet: I use online media to micro-blog. That is, I post personal updates as a life archive rather than to build a public scrapbook. My review of past performance confirms Facebook used to be excellent for mini-blogging but has grown progressively suckier in that role on a curve sorta like this:
I would be fine with my posts disappearing fast from public view if they were easy to retrieve and curate. I would be fine with posts being hard to curate and retrieve if they had enough visibility to compensate for the hassle.
Facebook wants me to pay for visibility AND makes older posts nigh-impossible to review and remove or search?
I’ve been doing more here and shifting the more random short musings or angsty outbursts to Twitter. Pictures of neat things I see or food I want to share? Those post to both FB and Twitter via Instagram.
And book stuff? That I do everywhere. Revisions to Sharp Edge are moving along at a good clip now, so…keep fingers crossed for release or at least pre-orders by late summer.
Gen Con. I want books or at least something to put in people’s hands by Gen Con. I know someone investigating the idea of reading chapters aloud to post YouTube. There’s something strangely appealing about this idea.
But that’s enough for now. Happy reading, and enjoy this springy picture.
This post is about communication. Synchronous versus asynchronous.
Asynchronous is a lovely word. (I may be alone in thinking this.) It fills the mouth when I say it. Sounds a wee little bit naughty. Ay-SIN-crow-nuss. It’s a word that looks like it wants to be turned over and have its meaning thoroughly investigated, but also one that might claw me up if you try to rub its belly.
BUT I DIGRESS.
Here’s the thing. I loathe synchronous communication with the fiery passion of a thousand burning suns. It spikes my heart rate, clutters my forebrain, agitates the muddy bottom of my brain, and generally renders me useless for quiet thought for a long time afterwards.
And unfortunately for me, modern life is one, big, perpetual synchronous party.
Want some definitions? At its simplest, asynchronous communication is reaching out to someone else with zero expectation of immediate response. Some examples:
Snail mail aka the old-fashioned postal letter
Voicemail on a landline phone answering machine
Email (in theory, anyway.)
And now, some channels commonly used for synchronous communicating (listed in order of increasing stress for me…)
Text messages to a mobile phone
Twitter & Twitter DMs
Voicemail to a mobile phone
Facebook & FB Messenger
All these channels can beused to communicate asynchronously, and some–texts and voicemail, in particular–are specifically designed to be asynchronous. But in practice, they encourage and reward immediate response in not-so-ignorable ways.
And that critically damages my calm.
Partly it’s my crow-like personality.
App badges, little dots next to names, screen banners, counters, blinking lights…I cannot ignore their existence. THEY SHINY MUST CLICK. Peckpeckpeckpeckpeck. Gotta have ’em all.
Every notification system I can turn off, is turned off. My mobile phone runs in silent mode 24/7, so I get no calls except from a select few unless I am expecting a critical, time-dependent call. I turn off every social media alert the platforms allow.
Several factors continue to work against me.
First, possibilities distract me as much as the reality.
If there might be a message or comment or reaction out there, the possibility pulls me away from doing other things to check for a response over and over and over…and then I end up media surfing for hours for the serotonin kick of watching new content scroll past and seeing new notifications appear.
Some people can set aside communications for a certain number of hours per day or minutes per hour, or to certain times of day. For me, that’s pointless. Yes, social media platforms are designed to take advantage of my look-shiny-must-click impulse, but blocking it simply creates a different distraction. The infinite maybe is equally exhausting. (Twitter is the least problematic forum for me, possibly because it also allows/encourages/supports asymmetric relationships.)
Second, knowing I COULD respond jumps up and down on my guilt and shame buttons and becomes SHOULD. And it makes me expect the same immediacy from everyone else in the world, which truly isn’t fair and increases everyone’s stress.
Yes, up at the floaty rational top of my brain, I know most people tagging, posting, commenting, texting, or even calling do NOT expect an immediate or timely response. And I know everyone misses things, just like I do. No one cares that much about my input. Everyone else has busy lives and problems too.
Seriously. I do know these things.
Yet my conscience still tells me I am horrible if I ignore texts or emails or posts in my timeline. When I fail to reply to a comment, text or message, deep down, I feel mean and selfish. And that leads to feeling lost and sad when no one responds to things I post or send. And since new material is always coming in, the emotional maintenance cost on this guilt load gets huge. Talk about a distraction.
So here’s the meaty part: I’m officially adopting an asynchronous lifestyle.
Professionally this is a dicey move, but my outsize need for Quiet Mindful Time simply does not play well with the idea of 24/7 immediate access and interaction. It’s clear that as long as I accept the modern idea that availability is necessity, I am SUNK. So I plan to get comfortable with having a reputation as “quiet and hard to reach.”
In practice I’ve been half-assing this strategy for a long time, but it’s only worked in fits & spurts because it was grounded in avoiding temptation, rather than actively rejecting the availability premise.
This isn’t about limiting my online presence as such. It’s about managing expectations. I am building a blanket fort and sitting down in it. So to speak.
Please don’t get angry about future delays in replies and lack of online participation. Recall that once upon a time, not so very long ago, it was NORMAL to wait hours or days between episodes of interaction.
Maybe no one will mind at all. Probably no one will care. I’m probably worried about nothing. The hard part is convincing myself it’s okay.
Imma go work on that now. Next post will have some practical details and particulars.
Ardulum Book 1. Juicy space opera goodness. I saw a recommendation by Seanan McGuire online, and I second the recommendation and third it and give it many thumbs up.
Other than that, I’ve been reading seed catalogs, longform online articles about sunscreen & vitamin D. Also re-reading my own writing a lot in the process of revisions.
Venom. Much more fun than I expected. Tom Hardy was entirely believable as a loser coping with an alien parasite. Slight letdown at the end with the alien.
Smallfoot. Um. It could’ve been worse? I don’t feel the 90 min of my life were wasted.
First two seasons of The Good Place, and caught up with the current season.
It’s “eat all the summer’s saved fruit!” season. I am perfectly willing to eat frozen blueberries as-is, raw & rinsed off, but Spouseman much prefers me to bake them into things. So. Faux cobbler gets made a lot (what’s that? I take a baking dish, pour in some rinsed frozen fruit w/a little sugar & lemon stirred in, dig out a couple of frozen apple doughnuts, enough to cover the fruit when chopped up and sprinkled on top, and bake until bubbly, browned on top, and delicious.) I make it with sliced, peeled apples too, but mostly berries.
Garden things in January? In Chicagoland? WEIRD, right? I helped with a seed bank seed-sorting project at Chicago Botanic. It was lovely. I got to play with screens, and pans, and an air column . Bergamot, penstemon, and prairie dock. My hands smelled like summer all day long, both times. Hoping I get to do that again.
Flashback cat pic:
No Context WIP snippet. I post these because I like them but am uncertain whether they work, by the way. Yes, I would like to know if they’re totally meh, or if you like them too.
Jack saw the rising column of smoke in the distance as soon as the teleport haze cleared around him. The tree-lined neighborhood street was empty, but shouts and wailing sirens were audible at a significant distance.
He bit back a snarl. The smoke meant they were going be late to the incident site no matter what they did, when every second counted.