Five Long Years

The fall of Western civilization can be charted by the declining number of book readers.

Yesterday was National Book Lovers Day, and on social media it came in like a lamb and went out with a whimper. On twitter, it never made Trending status in the many hours I was on which says a great deal about where everyone’s heads are these days. As expected, facebook and the mainstream media ignored it completely. Why? The answer is a simple one.

Readers a.k.a. thinking people, are dangerous to the rising regime.

“Book Lovers Day is celebrated on August 9 every year. This is an unofficial holiday observed to encourage bibliophiles celebrate reading and literature. People are advised to put away their smartphones and every possible technological distraction and pick up a book to read.” Wikipedia

I did my bit by contributing a half dozen tweets which were repeated on my facebook page that, not surprisingly, ranged from serious to amusing. Most saw no engagement. Yes some genuine book lovers tweeted, as well as some booksellers, but this was an opportunity missed by almost every author, publisher, educator, and library I know and about a million others I don’t.

We all talk a good game when discussing the importance of reading in America, but when it comes to actively doing something collectively about the problem, we fall flat.

Changing how we parent, educate, treat the environment, allow ourselves to be governed. . . all have become political, and this is why intelligent people no longer participate in these discussions. The prevailing rampant stupidity in politics has silenced the majority who need to speak out and be heard.

I thought book people would be different.

I know many are introverted. I also know they are smart. Why is it they do not realize their apathy endangers their beloved books. Here’s how the world works, kids:

If you are not fighting for it, they will take it away.

 

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Bureaucrazy

The only business that has never seen a downturn is government.

Public servants my ass!

Government employees are a special kind of crazy—similar to academics—in that they are completely incapable of functioning in the real world.

You need only look at a ditch digging project where the white and blue hats outnumber the yellow hats—the only ones with tools—to see how far removed from reality they have become. Collectively, one blue hat, two white hats, and three yellow hats are costing the taxpayers about $350.00 per hour as they stand around talking while looking at the ditch.

two man holding white paper

Productivity and efficiency mean nothing to these people.

None are motivated to work hard or to get the job finished as fast and cost effectively as possible. Their jobs are secure for as long as they want them, and a significant pension awaits when they have had enough. In addition to their generous top-of-scale salaries, they and their families enjoy complete short and long-term disability insurance, medical, drug, and dental plans. . . all paid for by the taxpayers.

The blue and white hats decide to have lunch to discuss the hole in the ground further so they jump into three separate government vehicles which they pay nothing for, and they expense their two-hour $120.00 bistro “business lunch” back to the taxpayer. In a bizarre rationalization, they consider themselves to be taxpayers because they pay taxes, so they feel entitled to such expenses. To them, it is as though they are paying for their own lunch. With only an hour or so left in their workday, they all head home early to beat traffic.

Meanwhile in the real world. . .

Somewhere out there right now is a young guy with a family to support, driving a ten year-old pickup truck which he bought; paid to licence; pays insurance on; pays to maintain; pays to put fuel in, and who also bought the pick and shovels in the back with his own money.

yellow pick up truck on grey concrete road

He is digging a hole too.

He estimates one hard day of ditch-digging should get the job done. His hands will be blistered and his back will be sore come lunchtime when he gets to eat his brown-bagged mid-day meal, lovingly made by his wife from last night’s dinner leftovers. On completion, the customer, which he had to find by making calls and sending emails each night after work, will pay him $200.00 for a day’s work. He will set aside 30% for income tax; 11% for business taxes, and 20% to keep his business operating. He and his family will attempt to live and build a secure future on the remaining $78.00. He worries about how long he can keep up this pace. Last month’s dental bill for the kids wiped out their savings. Regular dental checkups for himself had to be shelved in favour of keeping up with his workers compensation insurance payments.

He has been called the backbone of America.

Sadly, this hypothetical taxpayer’s back only lasted into his forties. He called up the government-run workers compensation department for help when doctors said he could not return to his job. The bureaucracy seized the opportunity to kick him when he was down. To them, with every denial and penny-pinching move they were saving the government money while simultaneously justifying their own continued employment within the bureaucracy. They do not acknowledge who pays the government they work for. ‘Claimants are the enemy. We are not accountable to the taxpaying general public.’

These bureaucrats had the audacity to question HIS integrity.

They are oblivious to the hypocrisy which is all around them. They even went so far as to accuse him of being a scammer before finally sending $680.00 each month.

Pull your heads out of your asses America.

This level of inequity is not sustainable.

Why be a starving writer when you could be a starving naked artist.

I am so sick of computers and everywhere they take us.

Being a writer means being married to your computer. Things are made worse if you are a published author because you also have long term commitments to social media and publishing sites. My almost one-year-old Dell is an evil wife. She has melted down twice in the short time we have been together; a RED FLAG if ever there was one. So why continue to put up with the daily torment of weak WiFi, boggy performance due to updates and background processes, and the general stupidity of the online world when there is little or no money in it?

I can do other things.

The real question is: What other things can I do which don’t involve computers? I could reinvent myself once again as a post modernist painter. I might use my initials to create a new artist identity: Ethan Alfonso? It has an artsy ring to it. I could add a hook as well: All Alfonso’s are painted in the nude. Post modernist erotic portraits of lonely housewives and  divorcées, painted by a still pretty hot naked guy, should get me laid more than writers do. The fee for such commissioned portraits would certainly exceed what I make as a writer; perhaps several times over. For a tiny initial investment—far less than book publishing—I could whip off a bunch of samples to lean against the walls of my apartment for prospective clients to peruse; perhaps over wine, if they are hot. I could sell some works beach-side while working on my tan. Once summer ends here, I can move into a spacious van and travel to various beach communities down South, chasing the warmth of the sun, and making Canadian winters something I don’t do anymore.

What’s the worst that could happen?

It’s possible I might be killed by a jealous husband, but this has always been my preferred check-out plan anyway.

Sounds like a worthwhile endeavour to me.

Where is that art supply store?

I’d Google it, but this hunk of junk Dell—soon to be ex wife—sucks harder than the vacuum of space during a hull breach on the Enterprise.

Now twitter is doing it.

As if the mother Zucker wasn’t bad enough with obvious societal conditioning techniques built into his flakebook algorithm, now twitter is showing its hand. They too have had their user privacy issues, but twitter was always a place where you didn’t feel as controlled and manipulated. You could reach out to people the world over, and if you added them to a list, you could see everything they posted. If they were not English speaking, you could click the translate button to see what was on the minds of people in Europe, Asia, the Middle East. . . to gain a more honest global perspective than what we are offered in American media.

That ended today!

Twitter has been ramming the “New Twitter” down our throats for a while, but we had the option to revert to “Legacy Twitter” which many users did. It wasn’t an option today, and the Translate Tweet function was gone in addition to some other user niceties.

‘We can’t have American minds being contaminated by other countries.’

They are closing up the box with us in it.

This final straw will hasten my departure from anti-social media. They just keep taking away all that was good about these platforms and replacing them with more ads and user data collection. I don’t need to stick around to watch the death of social media, I’m just glad to see it go.

When Will We Get It?

Most days I root for humanity . . . some days I root for space rocks.

If you enjoy reading about patriarchy and the puppet masters, you are in the right place.

In my storied online “career” (?), I was a good, not so little, author who played nice in the early years. I “friended” and/or followed approximately 10,000 people, sites, and pages because that was what we were told was necessary to promote our books and build a platform to launch us. However, as I delved deeper into the publishing world, I found out it was all a sham to keep us busy, and, most importantly of all, to keep us blowing money. Now, after five years and spending months cleaning out my social media accounts, I have about 300 interesting “friends” and follow about 300 others.

Some of the people I axed were butt-hurt.

If they were true supporters, they were given my reasons, but most were people who never engaged in all the years I kept them around. This idea of “friending” or “following” just to have impressive numbers is laughable, and anything but social.

My new antisocial media program is simple.

If I am ever to make enough time to write seriously again, social media has to go—except twitter—I love my twitter in the mornings over coffee, and I can “misbehave” there. I have a new ‘boobies and books’ theme I am thoroughly enjoying. Do I care some will be offended? F-ck no. Do I care about the imagined publisher or agent passing on me because I don’t conform? Hells no. It’s just bullshit “they” feed newbies. The right agent or publisher will get me, or I will self-publish again, but in a much smaller way.

Here is the plan for this summer:

  1. Create and blog out memes daily, if possible.
  2. Power tweet on Fridays.
  3. Facebook on Saturdays.

In a perfect world, this system should:

  1. Drive up website traffic.
  2. Give me more monetized hours each day.
  3. Let me work on my tan.

Have a great summer.

Bad breakup? Need closure? WTF, try an email.

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How to write the ultimate GO F-CK YOURSELF email to a cowardly ex who denies you closure by going into hiding.

Yeah, I wrote an email like this, and I would do it again if ever I am stupid enough to fall for another selfish narcissistic sociopath who refuses to make a call to end things properly.

Why do this?

It is simple really, you need to get the rage out, and this is infinitely better than burning their stuff in the backyard. The neighbors look at you even more weirdly than normal when you do such things. More importantly, this allows you to process their evil deeds, and the pain you are feeling through carefully chosen words when a long relationship ends horribly. In other words, this is one method of speeding up the recovery process when you have had enough of their bullshit. IT IS ALL ABOUT YOU and your wellbeing. Don’t be polite; they weren’t, and they will not suddenly start appreciating you if you take the high road now. It is time to sink to their level to get through to them. THEY BROUGHT THIS ON THEMSELVES. At times like this, it is not narcissism—it is a survival mechanism.

Essentially, we are aiming to hook them, call them out, and then crush them like the cockroaches they revealed themselves to be.

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To use this article as a template, ideally (and sadly) you would need to have experienced lies, deception, and betrayal which led to you ending a relationship. This is not about revenge. No, this goes deeper. This is about retribution which factors sin into its meaning.

The first line needs to grab their attention, and spark their curiosity so they will continue reading.

Don’t scare them off with a nasty first line; appeal to their humanity in case they have any. Aim to create guilt and remorse whether they are capable of feeling those or not. Go with something like:

Hey, remember me? The person you won’t talk to who. . . 

You then add a reasonable number of important things you did for them—the more life-altering the better.

In the next section, you want to point out why you felt compelled to write to them.

You want to subtly shift from continuing to pile on the guilt to pointing out how their spinelessness forced you to take this action.

I really thought you would step up and talk to me at least one final time. But no, as with every decision you make, you chose poorly once again. You probably will never tell me the whole truth to help me with closure, and even if you did, I would have a hard time believing any of what you might say.

This mild slap in the face will show them how low your opinion of them has become.

Next, remind them how you had noticed their suspicious behavior for some time, and then shift to the possible conclusions you have reached as a result of their lack of communication.

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You can get nasty here. It’s character assassination time. (Woohoo!) You could begin with questions:

Are you on drugs? Are you having a mid-life crisis of epic proportions? Did you fail to take your meds? Are you attempting to sleep your way into money and security rather than working for it? Were you dropped on your head as a baby? etc.

Personally, I prefer statements. You could begin with:

Now that I know the depths of your depravity and duplicity, I think the following are probable:

Your list can be “on the money” or you can take “creative liberties”. You get the idea. Have some fun with it, while making it clear what a loathsome piece of crap you now see them as. Also indicate how you will continue to believe all of these possible truths until such time as they explain their actions.

Add an image of how you now view them for a more dramatic effect.

You could (or perhaps should) go straight to a porn site for an impactful and distasteful image which exemplifies your view of them. Other possibilities might include images of various STDs from a medical book. I went with a less vulgar illustration myself, but it’s your call.

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If they have made it this far, it is time to write your heart out.

Admit you weren’t perfect while driving the stakes in. Take a little responsibility while showing how minor your character flaws are when compared with theirs.

I always wanted what is best for you, and it was out of love and caring that. . .

Show how their behavior has left you pitying them. This, of course, presumes you truly know their history or pathology and were not lied to about everything.

It’s sad—so sad—you are incapable of true love and gratitude. I blame. . . 

Don’t be afraid to make unfavorable comparisons with your previous exes or especially people you know they dislike.

My other exes had some class and most knew at least a little of what is appropriate decent behavior. You are a total hypocrite. You slander [Insert name here.] while behaving even worse.

Dive into decency, morality, scruples, ethics. . . whatever you can sink your teeth into which best fits their behavior.

A soft warm up to your closing statements is next.

You could use a bulleted list.

  • I am sad for me for being duped.

If there are children involved, you could add:

  • I am sad for [Child’s name.] because he/she will most likely be raised by the likes of you two.
  • I am sad for your new significant other if you manage to get your claws into their heart, or on the keys to their house and vehicles, or worst of all, access to their bank accounts, insurance policies, and will.
  • And yes, I am sad for you as well, because despite all my efforts to repair the damage done to you, your ability or willingness to retain anything new is abysmal. You will continue on YOUR CHOSEN PATH, unconsciously following your base programming, and this trail will not lead to happiness. On the upside, I have finally figured out my fatal flaw. No one can fix you. Only you can do that, once you trade in self-obsession for self-awareness.

It’s important you leave them to the end of the list so it ties in with the big finish.

Enough of the body blows, it’s time to close with a throat punch because punching the heartless in the chest is pointless.

Here’s an idea for you:

At the end of most of my relationships, I would usually say farewell or good luck in your future. It would be disingenuous of me to say either of these to you because I know Karma is going to tear you a new one over what you have done. YOU ARE SO F-CKED!

I will just say goodbye.

Did it work?

In my case it did. I got most of the poison out. She confirmed the magnitude of her deception and offered up a lame apology. Regardless, it was enough for me to shed any residual affection and desire . . . allowing me to quickly move on to healthier greener pastures.

I can’t wait to see the comments on this post. I expect the miscreants to be outraged, and every person who has dealt with betrayal to love it. We will see.

 

Getting more from facebook: 20 useful tips for authors and normal people too!

How to eliminate everything that sucks about facebook.

 

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Choose your “friends” wisely.

If you think someone on facebook must be popular and interesting because they have 5000 friends, think again. Most likely they or their “people” are just too lazy to clean out the dead accounts on their friends list. Lazy might be an overly harsh choice of an adjective as I found out when I took on the monumental task of visiting more than 90% of my 3000 “friends” profiles to see what they were about. It took hours per day for weeks but what I found out and the actions I took would make flakebook entertaining for the first time in my four year battle with it. In all likelihood, these mostly writer types I accuse of being layabouts above, are smart enough not to care too much about social media and only show up for a short time each day to feed the insatiable beast.

person cleaning flush toilet
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Why make the effort to clean it out?

A few months back I was oh so close to deleting my fakebook account completely, but I stopped just short of doing this in favor of re-purposing MY site into an “entertainment channel” for myself and the lucky few “friends” who survived what I now refer to as:

The Cleansing or Friend Pocalypse 2019.

Why did I put MY in upper case letters? The answer is simple really; many of us forget that our facecook account is ours to do with as we please. Authors often feel an obligation to accept friend requests from just about anyone who sends one in the naive hope these people will become readers of our books. Worst of all, you probably think you will hurt someone’s feelings by unfriending them, when in truth, they probably don’t care and may never know.

I dumped just over 2650 “friends” in about three weeks and here is the data I collected:

  1. At least 50% of those were abandoned accounts.
  2. Approximately 50% of the abandoned accounts have been high-jacked.
  3. Sadly, you will find out some people you once engaged in conversation with have passed away.
  4. 5% were deactivated accounts.
  5. Not one person objected via DM to their termination.
  6. Your followers are not related to your friends list.
  7. Post engagement went up.
  8. My news-feed is now full of posts which actually interest me.
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Rant, whine, whinge, complain. . .

Authors in particular love to complain about their posts not being seen or interacted with, and how facelook limits the number of our friends who can see our posts; yet they never consider how this corporate giant is, or should be, motivated to send our posts to our dead “friends” accounts in order to save big on server usage. If there is no interaction on a post, server costs go down. The 7% claimed maximum post reach is quickly cut in half most of the time by your dead accounts, and it is conceivable that some days our posts get shared into the news feeds of nothing but these dead accounts. It’s way easier to blame facenook (I love to every chance I get.) than it is to clean out all the dead accounts YOU FRIENDED. Yes, your “friends” list is your responsibility; ergo, your post reach is a reflection of how well you manage your facetook account.

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Because I no longer care about the publishing dream we are sold, I have turned “unfriending” into an art form.

Here is my criteria:

Mutual friends with my ex? GONE!
Mostly political posts? GONE!
Mostly religious posts? GONE!
Mostly kids and pets? GONE!
Mostly book promotion? GONE!
Unanswered birthday messages? GONE!
Infrequent posting? GONE!
Over the top patriotism? GONE!
Allowing people to post ads on their wall? GONE!
A whiff of racism? GONE!
Over the top sexism? GONE!
Posting in languages other than English? GONE!
Posting violence? GONE!
Posting animal cruelty even if you are an animal lover. GONE!
Unceasing negativity? GONE!
A lack of engagement: Likes, Comments, and Shares? GONE!

I wasn’t as merciless as the list above might make it seem, although I did relish terminating vocal Trumpeter supporters and old rich white guys whose view of the world is just too f-cked to bear. I must also confess how much I enjoyed unfriending real best-selling authors who I envied for catching a break but who turned out to be boring as shit. In fact, I visited over 90% of the profiles I dumped looking for reasons to keep them. If you made me laugh, made me think, posted something meaningful, or showed yourself to be a caring person with some depth, then you probably made the cut.

person reading the daily fake news newspaper sitting on gray couch
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Where did all these fake or abandoned accounts come from?

In most cases, the author contracted a P.A. or book marketing services company to create and manage their profile and possibly pages, but when the term of the contract was up, these authors found out they did not own the account. From that point forward, the promoters continue to post there from other accounts they create, leaving you to scroll back months or years before you find a post from the author whose page it was. This wreaks of a scam by companies claiming they will get your book in front of hundreds or thousands of readers, when in fact most of us unfollow these accounts as soon as the first ad for sunglasses appears. If you are a budding author, create and manage your own accounts and consider what you may leave behind. Do not allow other people to post to your wall; let them tag you instead.

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There are different levels of cleaning.

A Level 1 Cleaning is just scrolling your friends list and deleting the deactivated accounts. This hour or so will make room for new friends.

A Level 2 Cleaning is the dumping of all the people you unfollowed. Why keep them if you don’t like their posts? This will take a few hours.

A Level 3 Cleaning means going to profiles to see if they are real and active accounts managed by the author. For most of you, this will happen over time as this can represent days of work if you have thousands of friends. Keep notes on where you left off, and keep at it because these accounts are hurting your post reach.

Level 4 is a total reboot. I downsized to create a small but interesting group who entertain me. In the process, I scrapped three pages as well, due primarily to abysmal engagement, but also to eradicate all evidence of my former significant other. I visit these remaining friends profiles when the mood strikes and I’m usually pleasantly surprised with their posts. It’s like having 350 pen pals.

I will leave you with some facebooking 101 tips.

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Be really careful of the groups you join.

Just sit back and watch what goes on in the group before actively participating. If you see gossip and drama, RUN AWAY!!!

Only some of these are author specific:

  1. “Friend” readers—NOT AUTHORS OR WRITERS (at least not too many)—people who review, blog, promote, and talk books. i.e. members of book clubs.
  2. Activity (posting) and engagement (commenting) is key for both you and anyone you “friend”; otherwise you will never see anyone interesting to check out as a possible new quality “friend”.
  3. “Friend” ONLY people who seem real, who fill out the About Section of their profile, and ideally who show pics of themselves, friends, and family etc. Of course authors writing under a pen name may need an exemption from this rule, but you can get a sense of their legitimacy by the size of their following, their number of mutual friends, and how long they have been around.
  4. NEVER TRUST ANYONE OR ANYTHING YOU SEE on f-ckbook, or anywhere else online for that matter. This is a world of pretenders who, except for a rare few, do not know the first thing about being truthful. Lies and deception rule their pathologies.
  5. UPLOAD content daily to your Author Page. i.e. a good morning meme, and share it to your profile’s wall. This will increase your page reach.
  6. Update your Status daily on your profile, ideally with something amusing or interesting which can be shared publicly. Status updates are seen more than posts you share to your wall.
  7. INVITE people to Like your Author Page. Before long you will have a following who will read the tweets and blogs you send to your page. I made the mistake of creating followers of my public posts from my profile’s wall instead of creating an Author Page right from the start.

Best of luck.