Friday, November 19, 2010

Has My Social Media Experience Peaked??

For various reasons lately, all of this social media stuff has begun to feel quite heavy to me. The twittering, the emailing. The blogging. Actually among them all the blogging may be among the easier to do, since it is sharing my thoughts. Though I have not done so here in over a week.

My spirit has felt heavy lately because I am not sure if I am making a difference with all that I do. I appreciate it when people mention that it does, but one has to feel it themselves, and for whatever the reason, this last month I have not been feeling it. It hasn't made me feel better. It hasn't brought any new opportunities to me. It does not appear to have given me any tools to cause any good in the world I find myself in.I don't mind confessing that this is a more than a little depressing sometimes.

Which brings me to another sad point I need to make. When things suck, I say so. If I look back on something that sucks, I mention that it sucked. If I know why, (which I usually don't) I say why it sucked. If  I am in the middle of something that is beating me down, I will say that I am tired of being beat down. Especially when I am powerless to do anything about it. (Yes, one can be powerless to change something...)

I have always figured that if I can be happy and celebrate something positive when it happens, I should be just as entitled, logically, to lament when things are not working. Because let's face it, sometimes shit doesn't work. And for some of us, (frankly, like me) a whole lot more does NOT work, than does work. And I am not about to ignore the bad luck I find I have to deal with. Yes, I have had a lot of it.

But that honesty gets me in trouble in social media. It pisses people off, gets me called names, or accused of any manner of things that just are not fair. I had a pretty large disagreement with a social connection and friend over the last two days. I don't know, they may be a former friend at this point. I hope that isn't the case. But I do know I need a break from them, because they became very angry at me for being so "negative". And, like many of the articles I read they sort of laid into me about how there is no such thing as bad luck, that nobody ever fails, and that the only reason I am not where I want to be in life is because I do not choose to be happy enough.

This person with whom I had the disagreement is not, however the only person or source to declare this to me. I was more shocked and hurt by their anger with me because it was so personal, and seemingly so unlike them. Yet the incident was actually more of the straw on the back of my camel this month. The moment where instead of either ignoring it or moving passed the fact that someone had read me so incorrectly, I was instead very hurt, and unable to continue the conversation. Perhaps in the future...

But by no means was it unique in my social media experience. Instead of either taking my word for how unmovable my life has been for a while, or otherwise ask me some questions about my situation (which I am willing to answer), many people continue to make the assumption that I struggle because I am not happy enough. That if I were just upbeat all the time, I would have more money. Chances. Friends and success. That I somehow deserve whatever failures and loneliness I experience because my smile isn't broad enough for some people's taste.

I have gone over why I think this is a flawed approach for me. I have gone over it many times here on the blog, in fact. And I am not going to go over all of that again, other than to say everyone has their struggles, and no two people have the exact same type of struggle. So no two people can have the same solutions. What is true for you is not true for me and vice-verca. And I think the world would go a bit better if we just respected that. Especially when someone's issues, as mysterious and perplexing as they are to us, actually do not hinder or damage us in any way. Sure they may be odd to us, even a bit annoying, but are they really keeping us from moving forward? Does the fact that somebody perceives their life in a way that we do not really threaten us??

Which is one of the bigger problems I find developing with my relationship to social media of late. Yes I have made some friends, and learned some things, and found some interesting web sites and articles that I otherwise would not have. And when I can, I apply what I learn. But express your frustrations or try to explain why you have been caught in an unusually potent loop of failure, (which I have been) and the "advice" is almost always the same out here.

"Just do it. The only thing stopping you is you. Be nice. Think high. Refuse to fail, and already know that you are going to make it. Travel the world!!"

And so on and so on.

Look, here is the thing; it doesn't work that way for everyone. I am not saying that a good attitude is wrong. It is more useful than a bad one. Nor am I denying that there are ways to attain just about any dream at some point. But I do maintain that it cannot be done by everyone alone. That those who have nobody on whom to rely, nobody to guide them, nobody to offer advice, invest a little seed money, or any other of a million things that makes it easier for us to succeed simply do not have as good a chance, or indeed ANY chance of getting ahead. I am a firm believer in the fact that nobody ever truly succeeds 100% alone. Even those bloggers and authors out there who claim that they had nothing and nobody and still climbed the mountain to become a king are sort of fooling themselves. Something or someone was there at the right time. Yes, those things have to be used and hard work must be put into turning them into one's advantage. I don't deny the hard work of some of the people that have "made it". I simply deny that you can squeeze blood from a stone.

In other words, if you start with nothing, as in truly nothing. (No knowledge, friends, network, money, job, location), the odds of rising above nothing are very low. And the truth is some of us don't have those things, and never really have. And to some of us, they just don't come easily. And that is the crux of the matter.

Let's say your problem is legal blindness. You can see shadows, or things that are very up close. But for all purposes, you cannot "see". Going forward will be more difficult for you. But through much hard work, and the proper guidance and resources, a legally blind individual can attain a very normal, fulfilling life in Western society. That's inspirational.

But one solution not suggested is to simply, "Start seeing! You are only blind because you are not thankful enough!" In fact, that is almost sickening to ponder saying to a struggling blind person.

Yet we say that to people with less defined, unnamed handicaps all of the time.

Not everybody's issue has a name as obvious as "blindness". Which means that the solution to a person's issue may not be at all obvious. And half of their struggle may be just trying to figure out what the hell has gone wrong with them and their life, and find a way around their unnamed but severe obstacle(s), without having to alter it. But like the blind person, the solution isn't going to be "choose to be different". Some of us have to identify the obstacles and walk around them, and not eliminate them, as so many people out there advise.

How to find a way around them? Social media is my attempts to do so. To connect. Find ideas. Take baby steps towards a new career and possibly a new type of life. To find people who think like I do.

One of the things Too XYZ was supposed to be about was making sure that the things that suck in my life, and life in general are not ignored. Are not shoe-horned into "blessings in disguise", but actually taken for what they are; gigantic pains in the ass caused by more powerful people or unchangeable circumstances. The goal is to find others who have suffered in similar ways.

But there is another side to Too XYZ. This blog, while often pointing out the unfairness and the bullshit, also has a great deal of material dedicated to getting around the bad luck. Or at least the struggle to find a way to do so. It is about the effort. The journey. The weariness of a man who wants to be helped on his terms. Who is willing to learn and change, but not willing to pretend. Who believes that our natural tendencies need not, and probably cannot be run away from, but maybe can be slowly changed over time, when outside circumstances at last improve. Someone who wants to improve but doesn't want to read about going to bed tonight and waking up tomorrow as Seth Godin. (I don't even want to wake up in fives years and be Seth Godin. I want to wake up five years from now knowing I am a better Ty Unglebower.) Who wants to remain true to his world view, while still illiciting enough compassion, interest, and energy from other people to help him fill in the gaps that are missing. And maybe along the way helping a few other people fill in some of their own missing gaps.

Yes, social media. I do complain about things when they never, ever, ever, ever, ever,ever change, no matter what I try to do about it. (Keeping in mind, my efforts will not be your efforts, but they are still difficult.) Yet I have positive things to say as well. I have tried to look at some things differently. I am not always lamenting. If you doubt this, I suggest you read this. And this. That one as well. And throw in this one.And for God's sake, if I can find something positive to think about for this...

So am I giving up? I don't know. It doesn't seem like that to me, though I am somewhat exhausted. I have pursued some new avenues of information, and I am constantly pondering what I can do differently that doesn't involve forcing change to who and what I am today. But will I be continuing the Twitter, blogging, thing? I don't yet know. I may not, honestly. I do know I need to think about whether this experiment was the latest to not work for me, or if it is too early to tell. Or if I simply need to tweak something. Or if my mind just happens to be very, very tired this month.

The play I am in is in tech week. (The final week where a lot of little pain in the ass details are worked out, for those non-theatre types out there.) Thanksgiving, a potentially stressful event in its own right, is coming soon. I continue to fight this month old cold. So I think I will at least give some of that time to pass before making a 100% final decision.

Do you ever want to stop doing all of it? Think you ever will?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remember them ALL.

Here, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, I remember the veterans.

ALL of the veterans.

We often think of the GI Joe, manly men, meat and potatoes, “For America, Jesus, and Apple Pie!” gung ho types on this day. Those that want to go “put a boot in their ass” and say so all of the time. The yellow ribbons, the medals of honor. The parades, and the constant “remember our troops!” bumper sticker culture we live in. The Audy Murphys. Which is good. Those “let me at ‘em” types are worthy of praise as well. But they certainly have the market well covered. I just wanted to take some time to speak on behalf of the other type of veterans. Their stories and attitudes may not make as good a country song or as good a movie. But they are all a part of OUR story.

I remember the women, of course. Who are sometimes forgotten today.

I remember those who were not bred to be soldiers. The artists, actors, intellectuals. The meek and the quiet. These types have been summoned in our history as well. And they answered too. Some ended up as soldiers anyway. Others ended up in support. Drivers. Medics. Quartermasters. None of them enjoyed having to do it. All of them served. I remember the veterans that didn’t usually carry a gun.

I remember the ones that are unknown, but do not even have the fortune of having their remains guarded 24/7 at a national monument. Though whose bodies are lost at sea, never to be seen in mortal form again. Those whose families were denied a proper farewell.

But I also remember those who may have been lost to war, though not killed. Those who either disappeared forever into jungles, or perhaps into the tragedy of their own shattered minds. These types too were never heard from again.

I remember the soldiers who did not support the war they went to fight, but went because their Commander-In-Chief told them to do so, whoever he was at the time. I remember the veterans who came back from wars they didn’t like, and protested the very government that sent them into it. I remember the veterans who tossed their medals back. The ones who spoke out, and continue to speak out in loud, constant, belligerent opposition.

I remember the veterans that voted for Obama. For Kerry. For Gore.

I also remember those veterans that do not fight for God and County, but fight only for country, preferring to leave their maker out of it totally.

And I remember those that served who didn’t happen to believe that Jesus was the son of God. Those who were Hindu, Jewish, Muslim. Those who are Pagan, and those who are Wiccan. And those who choose none of the above. Those who do not believe there is a God to fight for.

And those who were black, that fought and died for this country, long before this country gave them anything worth fighting for. Long before any of them had anything to come back home to.

I remember the homosexuals that fought, bled, and died, throughout all of our wars, but had to deny what they were and who they were in order to do so.

Also I remember those veterans of the wars we hear little about anymore. World War I. The war of 1812. The Spanish/American. And all of the smaller, “secret wars” about which we are permitted to know nothing.

Of course I also remember today the veterans that died while serving, in accidents, or of disease in foreign lands. Occupational hazards, and deplorable barracks conditions. Those forgotten by their government.

And those that found themselves any given place in this country, or around the world that were lucky enough to not be injured in any way, but knew when they went that despite how calm things looked, the possibility was always there, hanging over their heads. Something might happen. “This could be the day. We could be the unit. Defense may begin right here, and now, with me.”

And of course I remember those who died in uniform when there was absolutely no indication at all that they would might be giving up their lives that day. Such as those at Fort Hood.

Finally, on this day, I remember those who prefer to remain anonymous. Who would rather go through life after their service and not speak of it. Not advertise it. Who don’t want to be a hero. Don’t want to be on television, desire no songs be written about them, and just want to go to the football game without the announcer asking the entire stadium to stand up and cheer for them. The veterans who now simply want to live their lives back home, having done what they set out to do, whenever it was.

I remember them all. I hope you do as well.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Brazen Careerist Presents: Network Roulette

I wanted to take just a quick minute to mention the launch of something over at Those who frequent this blog know that it is my preferred career oriented networking platform, and today they have added another dimension to their mission. Network Roulette.

I have mentioned it before, but in sum, it is a program on their site for members to network instantly with people all over the world. Like speed dating, a person is randomly assigned another Brazen Careerist member, and a chat window opens up. The two then have three minutes to make a professional connection of some sort. At the end of the time, the session ends and both are moved to another person with potential networking value.

The service is free, as is Brazen Careerist itself. As an introvert, I love the possibilities Network Roulette brings to the table. If this interests you as well, sign up for an account at Brazen Careerist and see what I am talking about. And if you do, stop by Too XYZ and comment on what you thought of the experience.

Who knows? You and I may run into each other on the roulette.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

My Legacy: A Post in Cooperation with Brazen Careerist.

Sometimes it is extraordinarily difficult to think about one's legacy when one lives basically hand to mouth or less, as I do. One can get swallowed up in the every day and become so pre-occupied with finding a way to keep one's head above water that the very idea of a legacy seems not only distant, but vulgar. I find myself in this position.

But I have also found myself standing on the other side of the pendulum swing; maddening myself with thoughts of making a difference. Being remembered. Having mattered. And not having any of the resources or connections with which to make that happen, no matter how hard I try. Which in turn makes me try harder, and spin my wheels even faster, smoke, asphalt and dirt flying everywhere obscuring the view and accompanied by no real motion in any direction.

Yet even I attain balance sometimes, and can see both the challenges in the proper size, and the aspirations with a proper perspective. Time when I can evaluate the nature of what has come before me, what is around me now, and where it all might lead. And where I would like it to lead. Love it to lead. At such times I am most in tune with my truest self, and therefore most able to establish some sense of a legacy without obsession. A sense of mission without guilt. Of planning without punishment.

That may not be how most do it. But if you have read this blog anymore than, oh, twice, you know that I am not like most. I may even be unlike any but a very few. Because I have in my life, both by force, and by choice, come at life from an angle both unorthodox and unpopular. A slower course. A lesser embraced course. Not only the road not taken, but the road not mapped. There are a few grainy photographs of the road I take that have been filed away in the basement floor of the archive of life by a handful of people who have been foolish or brave enough to go this route. Those that have done so against all opposition from not just a cynical society, but from the inner critic that lives inside every marcher with his or her own drummer, no matter how confident they appear to be whilst moving confidently in the direction of their dreams.

Not all of us make it. Not all of us can keep it up. Sometimes I do not wish to. But I have. And I will as long as I am mentally healthy enough to do so. I will follow the road not mapped, and I will take some of my own pictures. But they will not be grainy shots snapped in the heat of a hurried moment. They will not be shots in the dark that only luckily captures some semblance of the lay of the land for future Too XYZers to use as a loose reference point. No, they will be crisp, clear, beautiful shots. Landscapes stretching into the horizon at dawn. Towering skyscrapers from every possible angle. Leaves of endless colors across the autumn forests and the cloud embraced, snow capped peaks of the distant behemoth mountains on the horizon.

And in all likelihood each of them will be taken from a vantage point that few others have considered. Or that have been rejected as too different, abnormal, or crazy by most others on their own journeys. I will have to take these life pictures with the camera of my heart amongst shouting and doubting. Sneers, jeers and scoffing. And worst of all, in the face of total indifference.

But I will experience those things. On this road. And take those pictures, those perfect pictures to lay out behind me, beside me, all around me, and around everyone else who wants to see them. I will, when all is said and done cut my own road towards my destination, with or without any help, capture the essence of the journey, and share it in an inspiring way, with those who want to make a similar journey but know not how to begin it.

In other words, I will find a way to get where I want to go while still being the strange me that I am. And I will leave behind something, or hopefully many somethings that are beautiful that move people to do the same thing with their own lives, should they find themselves Too XYZ to be branded and herded by society.

That is what I want my legacy to be.

This post is part of a blog series on Brazen Careerist being sponsored by Entrustet. They asked Brazen members to answer the question:  What do you want your legacy to be?