Blog: Changing For The Better
(originally written 3/24/15)
Some people deal with insomnia by flipping on the boob tube.
Some put on soft music. Others go out for a spin.
A great many just lie there, tossing and turning.
Some whip out books. Some whip out something else.
I head to the computer. Hey, if I gotta be up, why not be productive? Catching up on blogs, blog research or working on TSR is the quietest way for me to be productive in the middle of the night. What else can I do that won't wake up anybody? Pen my memoirs?
(Flashback to an early Simpsons episode: "Shut up with that pen-scratching down there!" Those poor, undersexed twins.)
Several months ago, 3am productivity somehow dissolved into a prolonged Facebook session.
This is precisely why I suspended my account for most of 2013, and why I did it two other times before that—it saps my productivity like a mosquito saps blood. Without FB around as a distraction, my efficiency and focus skyrocket. (There was one other time I suspended my account due to shame, but I'm not here to talk about the past.)
Invariably, I'd work for about 10 minutes on a blog—or later, TSR—before landing in an extended FB chat with someone about the soaps or video game glitches or Billy Beane (or even ignorant cows once). If chat wasn't an option, browsing all my own photos for the umpteenth time, or going back and critiquing all my previous notes capably fulfilled my procrastination needs.
Today, little has changed. It certainly hadn't changed in early December, 2014.
On this particular night, for whatever reason, sleep proved more elusive than Jennifer Wilbanks on wedding day. I looked over at Josie, half-smiling in marvel over this beautiful creature I created, half-growling in envy that Sandman chose her over me.
So out came the laptop.
I went back through sundry old notes and posts from the past few years. Most of them were amusing, informative, insightful or nostalgic. Nothing wrong with those labels.
Then, for the first time, I noticed a recurring pattern that really threw me—not only because it existed, but because I never noticed it existed before.
My Facebook page was so...exceedingly...negative.
You could easily count the amount of posts between each spew of hate, annoyance, frustration and/or insensitivity on one hand.
I had no clue the depths of my negativity.
If it wasn't me railing against bums, it was me actually compiling lists of people I won't send to the moon once I take the world over. There were three notes with my misanthropy as the subject. Even though I'd instructed myself to not trash my ex via this medium...my ex was trashed repeatedly via this medium.
It was staggering.
This wasn't me. This isn't me. At least, it didn't USE TO BE me. And it certainly isn't who I want to be or how I want to be perceived. Given the content I've posted—and the way I've conducted myself—why anyone has anything to do with me is a mystery. I would have dropped me rather quickly. A testament to those I associate with. :)
I gave the matter some thought. What caused this? And when?
It didn't take long.
You see, I never saw the worst in people by default, never carried simmering disdain for bums, never sprayed criticism around like a U.C. Berkeley cop until...
...immersing daily in the Rob, Arnie and Dawn Show. (Henceforth, abbreviated to RAD)
This is a talk radio show I discovered four years ago. They run the full gamut on topics—you can hear full, serious coverage of the Russian invasion of the Ukraine one segment, then a silly discussion about 1980s toys the next. The show is infamous for bringing topics and stories to light that mainstream media simply sweeps aside.
On some level, I can understand why—the whole truth is ugly. People who depend on local or "Big Three" network news are blissfully unaware of just how rotten the human race can be.
Listening to this show every day for most of four years poisoned me. It poisoned my outlook and my opinions, made me distrustful and cynical, and caused me to shun just about every new friendship/relationship possibility from 2012 on.
And all that toxicity landed on my Facebook page.
I'd become a judgmental, self-righteous old grouch.
I'm genuinely sorry. I honestly can't believe some of the crap I posted. I'd delete it all but some of it elicited funny responses from friends. (Instead, I'm editing out the most angry titles/paragraphs. Hope that'll suffice.)
Why did I listen to the show for so long if it was so negative? Cuz it's funny as f--- and equally as educational.
And also poisonous, as it turns out.
Right then and there, I made the decision to quit the show cold-turkey that December night. I had to if I was ever going to go back to being me.
I'm aware not hearing the negativity doesn't mean it's nonexistent. But I have to go ostrich-style and pretend that it is.
Since dropping the show and working hard at accepting what I cannot control or change, my demeanor and disposition have inched closer toward pre-RAD levels.
Some days are better than others but for the most part, I'm simply refusing to let s--- bother me. I'm not Batman. I can't bestow manners upon the rude, or common sense upon the dumb.
I can't force people to conduct themselves a certain way. I can't stop people from naming their daughters "Boyd". I have zero control over choices made by others, and others have zero interest in what I think about them.
Besides, it's not like I'm perfect.
These days, I'm letting most everything roll off my back. Bad driving, saggy pants—just about everything I've wasted energy pontificating on in the past elicits a shrug and a smile now. Ditching that show may be the best decision I've made in my adult life. The bitterness I'd unknowingly been carrying around like a handbag went with it—I'm happier now, quicker to laugh, more accepting and tolerant.
Acceptance does not equal diffidence, however. While I'm 80% more likely to brush off that which used to set me off, it doesn't mean I will stand by and allow certain behavior. For example, any line-related rudeness will not and will never be tolerated. Furthermore, if anyone is excessively vulgar around my child, I call them out.
As a whole, this world is no utopia.
But if I gotta be stuck here, I might as well be happy.