Going Dark / Day 1 of 365

I have an unhealthy relationship with social media.

Using social media should be simple; login, use it for what it was designed for, and logout. The difficulty is that I don’t logout anymore – mentally or digitally.

I’ve never considered myself a heavy user of social media. I only pull out my phone a couple times a day, I don’t have any games installed, and I don’t even have Facebook downloaded.

Despite this conviction, I almost always collapse on my bed and open Instagram when I get home from work. It’s usually followed by Facebook. Then sometimes I meander to Reddit or YouTube – and an hour or two disappears.

Responsibility

I started to notice the personal impacts of social media when I moved across the country in 2013. I used Facebook to stay in touch with my long-distance friends. Over time, I realized that I was spending too much time online – I’d scroll so far through Facebook that I would arrive at posts I’d already seen. Despite this, I’d continue to scroll through the content again to see if there was anything new (there wasn’t).

A couple times, I deleted all social media apps from my phone until I felt comfortable without them. To avoid push notifications, I tried only opening the social media through Google Chrome. I’ve even fasted from my phone by turning it off for a week. Each time I’ve always gone back to using the apps.

It’s both fortunate and unfortunate that I’m the only one responsible for this. It’s easy to say, “just have enough will-power to stop” or “if it’s that bad for you, delete them and move on”. I have the power to do that – but for some reason I can’t make that leap, nor do I want to in the long term.

Big Picture

Social media has ingrained itself so deep within our culture that despite privacy concerns, known associated psychological health issues, and the visible obsession we have with this technology – we still use it.

Though, the point isn’t to escape like a hermit into the mountains. The internet has revolutionized communication, and we shouldn’t step back from innovation. But when the innovation has become so addictive, and the technology so psychologically manipulative, we need to take a step back and evaluate where we are going.

Psychological Warfare

Leaving social media isn’t difficult from a technical standpoint – most websites only take a few clicks if you know where to look. Instead, these sites focus on manipulating you into using their flashy apps and they make themselves appear as though they are the only way that friends can stay in contact.

Take Facebook for example; prior to deactivating your account, you are brought to a page displaying 5 profile pictures of your friends. The screen reads: “Are you sure you want to deactivate your account?” Below that, it says “Your __ friends will no longer be able to keep in touch with you”. Then, above each friends picture, “_(name of friend)_ will miss you”.

Other sites remove features if you don’t use their dedicated app. Instagram doesn’t allow users to view “liked” images in a browser. Facebook doesn’t allow you to view messages on mobile in browser – you must download their Facebook Messenger app.

A whole blog post could be dedicated to the ways that these sites psychologically manipulate you. The point is; you can live without them, despite what they say.

Starting a Project

For the next year, I’m deactivating my social media accounts and abstaining from using social media and similar websites.

Although there are other strategies to lessen use of social media, I feel like I’ve exhausted many of them. I’ve removed the apps from my phone. I’ve taken weeks off and left my phone at home. I’m used apps like “Offtime” to monitor my app usage. Every time I come back to the addiction.

My intention is to spend more time “Going Dark”. I’ve borrowed this expression, which loosely means, “To disappear; to become suddenly unavailable or digitally out of reach” (source). I’ll use this express to describe completely disconnecting (i.e. turning my phone off or leaving it at home, being unable to be reached).

My hope is to develop a healthier relationship with social technologies. During the fast, I want to focus on other aspects of my life that have been neglected – I have a stack of books I need to catch up on, my photography has taken the back burner in the last few years, and even my writing is… well, it needs work.

Too long; didn’t read (or conclusion)

I have an unhealthy relationship with how I use social media. Sometimes I spend hours scrolling through memes and old content when I should be doing other things.

Social media can be psychologically manipulative. Just try to leave it and you’ll see the passive-aggressive nature of some of these sites.

Although social media has potentially harmful risks associated with it, ultimately I’m responsible for correctly using it.

To work on my relationship with social media, I’m abstaining from using it for one year. I’ll continue to blog (without a schedule, definitely not daily). Though, I plan on ‘going dark’ (disconnecting completely, leaving my phone at home and turned off) every now and then.

If you’ve read this far, thank you. I’m working on building this website. If you have any questions or want to say “hi”, feel free to drop a comment below (no WordPress account necessary).

Are you sure you want to deactivate your account?

Yes.

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Another Beginning

I read somewhere that it’s good for the heart to break. When we experience loss or pain, we crack away at our hearts. Eventually, after we’ve torn enough walls down, the core is exposed. All that’s left is love.

Over the last month, my life has changed dramatically. Expectations about the coming months and years rapidly dissolved. My heart was continuously shattered. Relationships I thought were building crumbled, places I had settled in my mind suddenly began to expire, and the presumptions I had about the coming years painfully disappeared.

As I began to look at what I struggled with, I realized that I stopped expressing myself. Somewhere I ceased to do what I was passionate about. For that reason, I’ve returned to blogging for another year.

This round, I am removing the rules from the other years. I will say whatever I need to with as many, or as few, words as I want. The goal is to write everyday but I won’t hold it against myself if I skip writing occasionally. Subject matter will vary and the medium may change. While I enjoy blogging, the point is to express. Some days I may write, while others I vlog or paint.

I want to tear down as many boundaries as possible; I want my heart to break open. Above all, I want to share this passion with you for another year. So here’s another beginning to 365 more glorious days and all that may come with them.

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Ad Infinitum

It’s been over a month since I completed a writing 365 project. Since then, I’ve only written a couple of articles. The amount of time I spend on this site has dramatically reduced and I want to change that. For an entire year I sat down each day and wrote. Many of the posts were useless and junk but there was consistency.

Yet, doing another 365 project wouldn’t be satisfying. I don’t want to write daily as a goal or a challenge. I want to write simply because I’m passionate about it. There is no visible endpoint to that. I can’t say that I need to write daily for another year because I know that I want to keep writing past that.

There are other artists, whom I admire, that have done 3 or more years of art projects. Their passion is incredible but I feel like I’ve been measuring myself against them. If only I created as often as them, then I will feel content. But this simply isn’t the case. My passion cannot be measured against another’s. Then it’s not true passion, it’s envy or desire to be like them. This is why I cannot do another year of photographing or writing.

That being said, I will be creating more. It won’t always be on this blog either. Sometimes it’ll be taking pictures or YouTube. It may be scribbles on Twitter or a few pictures on Instagram. I can’t promise consistency on any medium but I can say that I will be creating more.

Also, as I sifted through 2014’s blog posts, I realized that I don’t really write about my life. For the most part, I tried to remain relatable to others. What I did write about myself was cryptic. It’s hard to talk about my life sometimes because I’m not sure if other people will understand it. My hardships feel different from other’s.

My perspective on myself changes constantly as well. Some days I feel like I have it figured out. Why I chased after that boy or how volunteering at that one event changed the course of the next six months. Other days I feel like everyone else is smarter than me and I feel like a child in a room full of adults. This makes my writing incredibly inconsistent.

Regardless, it’s important that I write because it makes me work on myself. It challenges me to reach out to other artists, to look at myself from many perspectives, and to focus on accomplishing something. This writing, whether it be hideous or fantastic, is my work. I own it as a piece of me. With that being said, I don’t see an end to creating. It’s like the blood that flows through my veins; coursing through every facet of my body and nourishing my soul.

While I can’t promise where we’ll go or what we’ll do, I hope that you’ll join me. I don’t know who you are or what your intentions are but I hope you choose to share yourself, to be completely you, to be unadulterated, and to share that with the world. That’s my intention with this site and I hope you’ll be here with me.

With that being said, have a wonderful night and I’ll see you again soon!

 

Day 1

The Beginning of Blogging

Waking up to my 100th day in Charleston tomorrow is going to be strange. Ever since I’ve started this 365 project the days have flown by. Tomorrow will also mark the 200th day of this project and I feel forced to re-evaluate the reasons why I started blogging. After all, I’ve spent more time blogging than I care to admit and to an audience that I could count on my left hand. The point of this post isn’t going to be to entertain. I just want to write this one for me.

The whole project originates back in 2009, when I first ran across Anna Szczekutowicz‘s work on Flickr. She was a younger photographer at the time and I found her work around 100 days into what she called a 365 project. It’s where she took a photograph everyday and posted it on the site. There usually wasn’t much writing but man were her photos breath-taking.

By 2010 I had decided to do my own photography 365 project. I tried it, usually only making it to day 20 before giving up. On my 6th try I made it all the way through. Another artist named Carolyn Snyder helped motivate me and kept me accountable for my posts. Around this time Anna took down her photo-stream and I felt like somebody had ripped a carpet out from under me. Removing your original inspiration leaves you with a hole and forces you to see what truly motivates you.

What I found motivational turned out to be my need for expression. The project gave me an outlet to get away from the world and do my thing. While it was escapism at the best, I found I grew more with photography than anything else in my life. The bug had bit me and I was forced to scratch that itch for years.

My project completed in early 2011 with no hiccups. Photography coursed through my blood at this point and seemed to be the only path I had. Many of my friend knew me because they saw me carrying a camera around. I had shot a dozen senior photos and most of my friends had modeled for me during the 365 project. I lived and breathed art.

Another great inspiration at the time was Linus Hui of Linus & the Feel Good Factory. He completed three 365 projects and evolved my concept of the project. Linus’ art was photography but it had a different take. Instead of just being a beautiful photograph, he included paper crafts that he designed. In addition, at the bottom of his posts, he wrote a tutorial on how to be or do something. “How to fake interest in conversations or on dates” was just the fourth day of his 3rd project.

What Linus showed me was that there really aren’t any rules on a 365 project. When I worked on my photography 365, I was strict and wanted a full year of only images. After that, I realized that art was so much greater than the limitations that we place on it. Restricting myself to taking photographs produced a portfolio but it didn’t satisfy my creative itch. I need something more.

I spent years looking for what that scratch might be. I delved into a 90-day project (like Anna’s) and found no satisfaction.Producing art had always given me fulfillment but I couldn’t figure out why it stopped. Perhaps this is something all artists face occasionally.

2012 was a great year because I finally found something that satisfied me. At this time, the photography community shifted from a photo-sharing site (Flickr) to Facebook. Involvement with up-and-coming photographers on Flickr gave me the ability to be friends with photographers on Facebook and interact with them on a personal level. These interactions lead me to becoming active on WordPress.com, where I could interview and write about artists.

The most satisfaction came from writing about artists and reviewing their work. This time bore “The Anatomy of a Dreamer“, “The Memory Get-ter“, “Navel Oranges“, “Eric Albee” (original personal blog), as well as many other projects. The inspiration that lead other artists to create inspired me. I suddenly understood why people create and I felt it again in a greater sense.

Mid-2012 I changed career fields and spend June and July immersed in training. I didn’t have access to the outside world until September and I was so wrecked from training that I didn’t know who I was anymore. The damage the training incurred made me have to reconstruct who I was and who I wanted to be.

Blogging came back naturally in slow increments. I experimented with other mediums like painting and vlogging as a way to figure out who I was. Inspiration came sporadically and I didn’t have very much time to myself. The nights I spent painting were often concluded with a sigh and a lack of satisfaction. The skill I desired needed more time than I had to give to it. I wanted to be good at these things but I couldn’t spend 10 hours learning a new skill each day.

The interesting thing is that although I didn’t feel satisfied, I still felt compelled to create. Something drove me to go to art and I couldn’t explain it at the time.

Stress ruined me from September to October and I turned to many Buddhist texts. I found that the advice I read could relieve a couple of hours of stress and give me an emotional break. Essentially these books helped me rebuild myself. Everyday I woke up and dreaded going to work. I would come home after 9 hours and cry in the shower or sob on the phone seeking consolation. Books like “The Power of Now” taught me coping mechanisms and released the clamp I felt I had on my head.

In October I met another artist who lived in the same building as me. We shared our frustrations and meeting him released a lot of stress. Suddenly I knew that I wasn’t alone and that other people suffered through the same things that I did. We spent a lot of time talking about art and just hanging out. It was good to physically know an artist.

I was forced to move away from that friend in October.  I didn’t have anyone to have deep conversations with anymore. Blogging filled that hole and shifted purposes. It gave me a way to create a monologue of what I wanted to say. Although there wasn’t conversation, I was able to express myself again.

Around the end of November I had an emotional charge about censorship. I couldn’t contain myself and it was like a last burst before I started blogging regularly. The truth is that I’ve blogged since my 2010 trip to Spain. It wasn’t until this emotion charge that I felt compelled to write more often and with purpose.

December 2nd I decided to start another 365 project. Instead of taking photographs everyday I wanted to write. It didn’t matter what I wrote about as long as it was 100 words every day. My job couldn’t take my life away from me and I wanted to prove that to myself. I was an artist and it was in my soul to create.

That unnerving lack of satisfaction I dealt with disappeared. Even though I didn’t have my camera or the equipment I could produce something that was my own. Days passed by and I had writing to prove that I was alive. No longer did I feel totally repressed.

After about 15 days I knew the project was going to stick. The words started off philosophical and my posts revolved around dealing with stress. These were things I knew and could easily write about. I was recording my life at one of the most stressful times I had ever experienced and sharing that with everyone.

As the year concluded my mother flew down to visit for Christmas. When the holidays were over,  the stress about work changed to homesickness and loneliness. I felt alone again and I wanted my old life back. My blog reflected this with about 20 posts about missing my cat and house.

The reason I started my 365 was to relieve this stress and to talk about it. Perhaps blogging was more of a conversation with myself than it was with anyone else. Photography was an expression that other people could appreciate even if they didn’t understand the message. Blogging is very different. It was direct and a tool I needed to rebuild a broken Eric.

As time progressed blogging documented my life events rather than hopeful Buddhist advice. When a boy unexpectedly kissed me in class, I wrote about it. Going home was a huge time for me, so I spent a week writing about it. Finishing training was a huge event. Moving to Charleston on day 100 was a huge life change. Becoming involved with another openly gay guy here lifted me up through 5 posts (and shoved me back down afterwards with 10 posts). Blogging was a way to digest everything that was happening.

As tomorrow marks day 200 out of 365 days, I really have to look at why I blog. Is there purpose to write for another 165 days? The answer is obvious; yes.

Blogging means so much to me; It records my life at any given moment it allows me to digest thoughts and things that I’m thinking about regularly, it opens my eyes towards what I’m doing with my life. Blogging reminds me that I still have some say over what’s happening. It gives me the opportunity to share my passions and experiences with other people. I feel human after writing. Blogging gives me something to share. It is medicinal after a heartbreak. Writing this fuels a fire within that I cannot put out. I feel compelled to create everyday and I haven’t found anything that satisfies me greater than caving in to that desire.

That is why I blog.

199/365

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I apologize for how long this post became. This past year has been filled with a lot of emotions and I didn’t want to restrain why I blog. That would almost be self-defeating. If you made it this far, thank you for reading. I really urge you to start your own blog over at WP.com. It’s life-changing, free, and will take you only 10 minutes to learn.

I work out!

As promised, I went to the gym this morning to lift weights. This is the first time in at least a year that I’ve went to the gym to lift weights. I can’t remember ever doing it regularly though. I went at the crack of dawn 0500 when they opened. It was amazing to get the fresh air so early in the morning and to arrive with virtually nobody there.

It was so relieving and exciting that I think I’m going to go the gym every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, until my body gets used to it. I love the feeling and I’m excited to start going more often. It gets me pumped up inside to have something new to do!

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New Sites, thoughts nouveau

Uffda!

Well! Here you are at my new blogging site! I felt like the old URL “EricAlbee” was too focused on my name and not the concept of the blog. So, because I want to keep that URL as well, I have moved here. Perhaps you’ve also noticed that the layout is a little different? I decided to change it because I wanted something that was more comfortable for reading on. This layout allows you to read at a larger font size as well as with more room. Less clutter = good thing! I’m working on putting the two site together so this one should function seamlessly by itself. Until then, accept the kinks. There will be a lot of them until everything has finally shifted. Oh! And do you like my new name “Everyone Wanders”? I think it’s fitting!

In the comments below, share your blog with me! I’m always looking for new blogs to follow and read! If you’re new here I’m currently doing a project where I blog daily for a whole year! Right now I am 42/365! If you want to keep up with my posts, click follow above. If you want to return to my old blog, click here!

Re: “My middle child, Eric aka The Blog Pusher”


Yesterday, my dear old mother, decided to post an article saying that I’m a “blog pusher”, that my mission is to “inspire/push everyone to type a blog”. Today I am here to clarify why… I’m also here to push you into blogging.

I’m a blog pusher because you have a story to tell. I want to see your words and I want to hear about your opinions. To fill more spaces than you write on Twitter and Facebook. Blog why you love H.I.M.Y.M. and why it’s so much better than Psyche. How you love the Supernatural fandom or wish the world had more Whovians.

Blog so that you can get to know yourself. The 140 characters on Twitter are not a in-depth view into you. They’re incredibly shallow! Posting a picture or checking-in doesn’t say why. It doesn’t answer how. It lacks the story that goes with the pictures or the trip you just went on. It leaves all those details behind.

Saying you went to Beyonce’s latest concert is great – but what about it was great? What was it like? Was the performance good? Sure you could explain it over 50 comments on Facebook but it’d be easier to blog about it. Blog about it here instead!

Log onto WordPress and write about it. Tell us about how excited you were to go and how you made t-shirts with your best friends. Tell us how the entrance was overflowing with adoring fans and how you screamed so loud you lost your voice. Tell us about the music and how Beyonce feels down-to-earth on stage. Tell us about it not only for us but for yourself.

Write it down to remember it. Filling notebooks and journals is an incredibly unorganized and painstaking way of recording events. Put it online so that you can look back at it next year when you go to write about Beyonce’s new CD. Put it online so other’s can comment and share their of music love with you.

Put it online so that you define it. So you can contemplate how you felt, how it still feels when you think about it. Write because we know that you have something to say. I know that you are so much more than those 140 characters. Your expression is so much more than that.

Blog because you do have the time. Because you can make time to passionately write about why the new Healthcare bills are great. Or tell me why they’re terrible. Tell me something because 140 characters cannot explain why you think. It cannot tell me your views on abortion or why you think birth control is wrong.

When people say that I’m a “blog pusher” they don’t realize what that means. They don’t realize the depth that blogging brings people together. They don’t understand that blogging forces you to think about your views. Anyone can type 140 characters or less mindlessly. But to write a simple three paragraph post on why you love the book “Catching Fire” better than the movie may inspire me to read the book as well. It could start a conversation that starts other people writing about their experiences.

In a world that does not understand each other, that throws hate at every group it does not understand, we could use more blogging. We could use more comprehensive explanations of why we are the way that we are. We could use discussion and contemplation to solve our problems rather than summarize the faults of the world into a single stretch of 140 characters.

I’m a blogger because blogging is a form of expression. It fills my mouth with words and pours them onto the keyboard. It tells the world, whether or not they listen, that I am here. This is me. This is what I have to say.

I’m a blog pusher because I’m here to listen. When the words pour out, or shyly fall out, I am here to listen to what you have to say. I want you to have that expression too. To feel what it’s like to look back at one full year of your life. To feel what it’s like to take your first steps out into the blogosphere. When you find your voice and realize that there are other people willing to listen. That is why I am a blog pusher.

Blogging will change your life, and I am here to push you to make that change because I know that you have something to say.

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