Cafe Witness

Friday, August 31, 2007

I'm a Hypocrite

In yesterday's post about The Negative Drain, I essentially said two things:

1. Your bad day doesn't matter, and

2. There IS no "good" or "bad" -- life basically boils down to perspective.

I also said I have trouble empathizing with people, especially when they fail to realize that their problems are primarily the result of their own actions. Thus, I despise the Negative Drain effect of people crying "woe is me" in an effort to draw attention to themselves, because it derails both THEIR forward momentum AND mine.

Some folks agreed with me. Some disagreed. But no one else thought to call me a hypocrite except longtime STBD fan Andrew Smith, who made the point on BOTH of my blogs.

Here, he commented:

‘Woe-Is-Me’ could be a wonderful title for that classification of blog entry in which I might place most of the ‘inability to manage time’, ‘get things done’, or ‘financial difficulties’ posts.

(In case you're new, those are topics that bubble up quite often here at Cafe Witness...)

Then, on the STBD Blog, when I mentioned we'd fallen behind on production due to my tendency to hit the metaphorical snooze alarm, Andrew wrote:

...or call it 'woe-is-me'. Justin, I'm not trying to beat up on you here, but for you cast's sake and for that of your art, please forget where the snooze button is. I've been a volunteer for the greater portion of my working life. Take their time seriously. It isn't really free. They sacrifice for what they care about.

I think it's pretty clear that Andrew is trying to be proactive here, which I appreciate. Which is why, instead of sitting here and attempting to defend myself, or debating the points he raised, I won't. Instead, I'll make a proclamation:

September is "No Woe" Month (for me, at least).

What does that mean?

- No blog posts or Twitters of a negative nature. (That includes irony, since I mentioned yesterday that irony is a great way to couch frustration.)

- No blog posts or Twitters about time management, getting things done or personal finance -- since, to offer suggestions for improvement, I'd have to first acknowledge that I sometimes have these problems myself.

- No blog posts or Twitters about bad news, be it mine or the world at large's.

- No COMMENTS about other people's problems. To acknowledge them is to delve into The Negative Drain, and hence risk hypocrisy.

- Not saying "I can't," because that implies an inability to succeed. Instead, I'll be using "I won't," which implies a conscious choice over which I have full control. (AKA, "I won't be going to PodCamp Philly next week, because I've chosen to work on STBD production instead.")

What's the Point?

The point is, Andrew's right: I can't claim to not care about other people's problems and then pretend that mine are worth talking about.

Beyond that, I'm interested to see if this woe-free experiment improves my productivity and general attitude.

My Predictions?

In actuality, here's what I suspect will happen:

- I'll become quite disenfranchised from everyone for the next 30 days.

- I'll get a LOT of work done.

- I may find something else to write about on this blog, since all traditional topics will be taboo.

- I just might end up happier... or I might go crazy with no ironic outlet.

However, one thing you can count on: I won't be a shiny, happy person every day. It isn't in my makeup. To paraphrase, if I've nothing positive to say, I'll say nothing at all.

And if I do have problems? Fear not; you'll not hear about them. (That's what friends and family are for.)

So: who's with me on "No Woe" Month?

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  • If twitters and blogs are to be conversations, and opening that up, you can't cut the bad stuff out. It's there, it's a fact.

    Part of the reason I read your twitters/posts, etc is your interesting, and oftentimes cynical, look on things. I've often looked at freelancers in recent months in a "greener on the other side" sort of view. And since I have plenty of them on my twitter account now, I discover how it really is with them, and others in similar industries I'm interested in. The "woe is me" isn't as unhelpful to the communitee as you'd think, regardless of the annouance.

    Don't cut your own balls off, Justin...

    By Blogger Sorgatron, at 11:43 AM  

  • It will be an interesting experiment. There's a nice roundness to aiming to make a month of this, but I'd suggest trying it for a shorter, more manageable period -- a week or maybe two. A day feels too short. A week would give you enough time to run into ups and downs, yet won't completely cut you off from your network.

    Truth be told though, I don't agree with Andrew that your posts about time management and such count as "woe is me." The difference is that, while you do write about the challenges of life, you pretty much always write about a solution you see, something you're trying, the bigger picture. The end result is much more upbeat and constructive, and the opposite of whining.

    So while I'd like to see the results of your experiment -- particularly whether you become more productive by blogging and twittering less, or you become less productive because you're stifling your natural impulse to vent and share -- I'd rather you kept on with what you've been doing.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:11 PM  

  • I tend to agree with Sorg here. The wonderful part of blogs, yours and otherwise, is the ebb and flow of personality and the transparency that comes with that.

    Many great conversations are born out of frustration and the down times of life. Trying to cut that out of your online presence now and only showing the upside of your existence would be a big mistake.

    I think a lot of people read your site to get a glimpse of the backside of your art and the process of making it...both the great successes and the turmoil. If all you want to do is make rosy statements about how well things are going, send out a press release. I believe Baghdad Bob is looking for work.

    And besides, if you can't be hypocritical on your own blog, where can you be?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:17 PM  

  • Sorry to hear about the Philly thing BTW...
    I think it's all about surrounding yourself with people who give you energy rather than drain it from you. Sometimes commiserating helps share energy, but people who are constant nay-sayers, wet blankets and whiners aren't particularly energy-rich themselves- an energy to get things done vacuum, actually.
    I don;t mind the vent on twitter, because the advice and support get me back on track, and I learn to really appreciate all my virtual friends. I find out who might need help and when I can offer it. I don;t think that's whining-it's friendsourcing.

    By Blogger wsh1266, at 1:17 PM  

  • You maybe setting yourself up here for the @AntiJustinKownaki.

    By Blogger Norm, at 4:01 PM  

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