The Priorities of the Internet

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I have noticed that I get far more views, likes, comments and followers from blog posts that talk about Harry Potter, internet fandoms and cats than I do from posts about the failing of our systems, the inevitable destruction of our species through global warming, the education system, or my want to change the planet. No one looks twice at a blog about fighting for the survival of the human race and the environment. But heck, if there is a funny cat involved, the eyes of the internet are on me. Don’t you think there’s something wrong with that? What am I supposed to do, stop writing about my passions and start writing fanfiction about ridiculous shippings of fictional characters? Would that bring my blog more popularity?

Next question: Do I give a shit if that will bring me more popularity? No. I don’t. I’ll keep writing about the important things in life. But will anyone listen? Will anyone tune in to something that doesn’t distract them from reality? The internet is not being used to it’s full potential. It is being used as an escape, a theme park for procrastination, and a way of filling the holes in people’s hearts that reality has left over. Yes, I love cats. Yes, I love Harry Potter. But do I think we should be spending our lives glued to a screen displaying history’s most incredible communication tool just so we can have our fix of dancing animals in sweaters? No. This could be so much more than it is.

My dad thinks I’m going to end up depressed if I keep reading the news on the internet. He thinks that all the bad things in the world will suck the hope from me. But for every horrible story I find, there is always another one glimmering with hope. There is always something to offset the misery, the pain, the brokenness, of the world. And I don’t even need to look up a picture of cats to find it. We could use the internet to learn about the world. We could use it to be inspired. We could use it to change things. We are the generation of the internet. Don’t you think we should make that title something to be proud of? I don’t want people to look back with raised eyebrows, going “yeah, they had the world at their fingertips and they used it to get into arguments about Doctor Who with strangers.” This is our chance. Let’s use it. Close the browser with the funny cats, open the browser with the article on renewable energy. Stop your youtube video of a makeup tutorial, start the video teaching you a new language. Go out and get informed. That’s what this strange pixilated form of communication is for, is it not?

 

 

 

The Tugging Hands of Stories

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I can feel the stories tugging at me. They reach their hands at me from the bookshelves, twine themselves in my hair with the blowing of a breeze that carries hidden voices, and call to me from ancient buildings. They want me to find them. They want me to live with them, in them. They want me to ditch reality and come away into their worlds. And yet every time I try to comply with their wishes, I can’t reach them. The pages slide beneath my fingers and give me relief for a moment, but nothing more. Am I to live my life with the arms of a million unknown characters wrapped around my heart, begging me to find their stories?

One of the reasons I want so badly to go to Europe is to lessen the tugging at my heart. For in Europe, the history is rich, the buildings ancient, and the potential of things that might have happened is deep. I can hear the voices of a dozen eras clambering in my inner ears from halfway across the planet. It seems to me that I must do my best to find them, and Europe is the place where many of them lie. But how far must I go? How many worlds must I search before I lay eyes on the stories that fight to gain my attention? How many lives must I live?

There’s a quote from Incredibly Loud and Extremely Close that goes “Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.” This is exactly how I feel. I feel like I’m being crushed under the weight of the stories that I will never be a part of. So I read. I write. I watch movies. I daydream. All to try to be every character who has ever wrapped their arms around my heart, both undiscovered and not. Because the voices pull at me. The characters grab my arms, the worlds put me in a trance. Am I me, or am I merely a collection of all the stories who have ever called to me?

The Perils of Living Alone

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It’s the beginning of week four of living pretty much on my own and I have – a bit too easily – compiled a list of the irritations, big and small, of this particular state of existence.

* No matter what you do, you always end up with a splotchy sunburn in the middle of your back, right where you can’t reach.

* When you go to make food that involves things in cans, the cans are always too big. For instance, if I want to make tuna casserole – And I do, I live off of this stuff – and I want to use mushroom soup as a sauce, I either end up with half a can of soup to compost or a plate of mushroom glop with a bit of casserole on the side.

* The washing machine is always half full and wasting energy.

* I have all these little things I want to tell someone and I collect them all in the back of my head. But eventually my mind just get’s grumpy and stops recording, so when at last I actually do get to talk to someone I can’t remember a damn thing I wanted to say.

* There’s no good role model to make me feel self conscious for eating Mr. Noodles at eleven at night while I watch entire seasons on netflix. This is both a blessing and a curse.

* There’s no one around to talk to so I end up getting into the habit of chattering away to myself. Which is all fine and dandy until I go out into civilization and accidentally collect a lot of weird looks.

* In every damn shiny surface I see a person and start freaking out as to why someone’s in my house. And then I realize that it is just my reflection.

* Noises that I once would have heard and thought “Oh, it’s just someone walking down the hallway” now end up with me panicking, going, “Holy crap, there’s someone walking down the hallway.”  Even if neither of the sounds were footsteps in the first place.

* I make a lot more facebook posts. Little comments I might have simply made to whoever I was currently with, like, “Geez, the ferries are so expensive” now turn into “HELLO WORLD AND INTERNET, THE FERRIES COST A LOT OF MONEY.”

Anyways, there’s also a bunch of good things. No one judges me when I dance around the house like a crazy person, or talk to myself. I make the rules too – again, a blessing and a curse. But anyways, i hope you enjoyed!

University

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I’ve always said I don’t want to go to university. I’ve insisted it, argued it, pleaded it. Now it’s time to contradict it. The truth is, I need more purpose in my life. Now that I’ve graduated, even with this new job being so wonderful, I feel like I’m drifting through life without a current to follow. Back-to-school ads will be up in force soon, depicting cheerful teenagers wandering hallways with their stylish binders in their arms. And I will be working on that first fateful monday when so many people re-enter the maze of the education system. Well, hopefully. I could also be sitting at home jobless.

The point is, what am I going to do with my life? Am I simply going to let it pass me by as I drift? I have many dreams I want to accomplish, yes, and I will work hard to achieve them. But they aren’t the type of goals that will pull me viciously behind them, as the dream of being an engineer, say, would pull someone straight to university. They are the type of dreams that require me to pick the path myself. They’ll stand by and watch as I try to navigate. Being an author is the purpose in my life, and yet it still let’s me drift.

So getting back to where I started this blog post: university. I am seriously reconsidering the idea. Maybe it would give me a place to start. Maybe it would inspire me. Maybe it would put my intrepid feet onto the right road. A course in creative writing could be just what I need, whether or not the world of employers appreciates the degree (they don’t).

University will also give me a community. I would be in the school environment, with like-minded classmates and colleagues. I wouldn’t be alone. I could actually have friends that I hang out with everyday. What a ridiculous concept. Me… with friends I see often? What is this madness? Why, I haven’t even talked to anyone my age in the last eighteen days, except over the internet, and then only occasionally.

Perhaps you can see the appeal of university now. Friends, purpose, learning. The last aspect of my growing plan is perhaps one of the most brilliant and adventurous. It addresses another problem I had with the thought of university:  ‘I don’t want to be stuck in school, I want to go travel! I want to travel the world! I want to tour through Europe.’ Well. Europe, hey? I heard there’s a really awesome school in Bath for creative arts – when I say “I heard” I mean I stalked the internet for the perfect school for hours on end. But anyways. “Bath Spa University” (I figure whoever named it had a sense of humour) is an amazing school for creativity and the arts.

Of course, there’s always little glitches in a perfect plan. The one in mine is small, I promise. I mean really, how hard can it be to save up thirty grand?

 

 

Characters

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In my last attempt at a novel, the one I finished the first draft for and then quit, it was my characters that were truly dragging me down. They weren’t consistent and they didn’t have enough personality. There’s a quote by G.K Chesterton that goes “A good novel tells us the truth about its hero, a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.” And that was really it for me. My characters all seemed to be slightly tilted angles of myself. And as for my main character… while, she was a shell. She was an empty face designed to be my eyes.

Truth be told, I hated her. She bored me. When I first realized that creating a second draft wasn’t going to be easy, I decided I’d write it all again with a new main character. That didn’t work either. He turned out to hold only slightly more colour than my old character. And the plot was flawed. I ended up ditching the whole thing.

Characters are what hold stories together. They are the honey that draws people in. They make something relatable, personable, funny, tragic and powerful. So as I’ve learned, you can’t have a good novel without some pretty awesome personalities in it.

And the wonderful thing, the thing that started me writing this blog post, is that my characters are finally becoming the dynamic beings I want to write about. Though they still need some work here and there, they have more flavour to them and more depth than my old protagonists ever did. I can only hope that this is a sign of good things beginning to happen.

Human Nature

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“It’s human nature” is not an excuse for anything. I am tired of people thinking that it is. “War will never stop” they tell me, “it’s human nature to fight.” Well great. Thanks. That really makes me feel good about my species. Apparently murdering innocent people is just a part of who we all are inside. Apparently being greedy, cowardly and narrow-minded is also on that long list of things we just can’t stop ourselves from doing. It’s instinctual. We might as well not do anything to save that old lady whose being mugged because it is human nature for others to mug people. There’s no hope in ever changing that so we might as well help. Heck, why don’t we all join the military and start pumping toxic fuels into the rivers because it’s human nature to do those things and we have no hope of stopping them anyways?

I’m am tired of people blaming our species’ nature for things. Believe it or not, there is no part in our DNA that says “you must be an idiot. You have no choice.” There is no place that says “be a greedy bastard”. There is no genetic code for cheating on your partner. Sorry. Find another excuse. Or don’t.

Our “natures” are defined by our cultures, our societies. Once upon a time it was the norm to sacrifice people to the gods. It happened all the time. There was no stopping it. But if I asked you if it was human’s nature to believe so fully in something that you were prepared to slaughter your daughter for it, would you say yes? Would you say, “course that’s in my nature?” No, you wouldn’t (I hope). Because that isn’t in our culture anymore. Human nature has changed. And it can change still more.

So the solution? Stop saying that there’s nothing you can do to change all the terrible things in life because it’s in our natures to commit said monstrosities. Stop saying things are impossible to change because they are written into the human spirit. Change yourself to focus on the lighter side of “Human Nature”. What if I told you it was also in every human being’s nature to be kind, caring and generous? What if I argued that we have to stop war and fight famine because it is in our nature? It is, isn’t? Think of all the people in the past who have protested for peace. They did it because it was in their nature. It can be in yours too.

No more excuses. No more “Nothing is going to change so I might as well join in”. No. More. Things can change if we try hard enough. Things can and things will, if only people believe in the light side of human nature. Stop writing off the entire species. I don’t know about you, but it isn’t my nature to steal, or murder, or lie.

 

 

 

Losing Neverland

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Do you ever wish you could go back in time and be a little kid again? Ever wish you could stay a child forever? You’d never have to be alone and you’d never have to change. You would be safe. Happy. Content with the smallest pleasures of life. People would put roofs over your head and clothes on your back for you. You’d have your family close and that would be all that you needed.

Is it weird for me to wish sometimes that I could go back? Is it weird for me to be afraid that I’ll never find a place that I can belong to in this big strange world? When I was little I was safe. I was never lonely. Now… well, let’s just say that loneliness and I have a history together that stretches back to grade six and shows no sign of letting up. The world is just so vast that it’s easy to get lost in.

I stay up late when I’m alone. For some reason there’s a difference between being alone in a house in the woods and being alone in a room knowing that there’s wonderful people nearby. I don’t even need to interact with the people at all, just their presence is enough. Otherwise, when I’m all alone, I can feel the void that surrounds me. It radiates out from me and it doesn’t touch a single soul who cares about me for kilometers and kilometers. I can feel it’s pressure weighing down on me, so I stay up late to distract myself. And I fight the wish that I could be a little kid again and always be surrounded by my family and friends.

But I can’t be a little kid. Because time doesn’t give a crap what anyone else thinks. Time is its own boss. Time caters to no one. Time doesn’t take shit so I guess I have to.

I am in that awkward place between teenager and adult. So much opportunity awaits me but sometimes I just feel like I’ll never get to it. And in this big fast world, will there ever be time for me to feel community again? Will I ever truly belong anywhere like I did when I was little? Will I find my people when there are seven billion faces to get lost in? Or will I drift on eternity’s cold wings without ever finding home?