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Q4 2022 - Report to the Shareholders

Trigger warning: Depression, Self-Harm, and Suicide

That satisfaction of pretending to be the hero, assuming the decency of institutions, qualifying personal truths with a "hot take" warning, the vindication of being the smuggest corpse in the mass grave.

I'm trying to release these familiar feelings and keep finding myself hitting a wall. I've turned into one of the old dogs. I'm worried I am Okonkwo and I didn't spot the missionaries in time.

Is this all too macabre, too obtuse, too self-referential? I can't help but assume that any reader trying to inventory their current situation would stumble into something more tactful than this... Shit, If your attention has not faltered from these literary turds on this blog up to this point, I guess I owe you some thanks.

From Here on up, The Hills Don't Get Any Higher

I've been catching myself day-dreaming a lot as of late. Seems to me that whenever the weather changes and the day turns to night before you get to where you're going, my brain starts filling the empty space with pontification. The current track has to do with this bubble, a myth to me but perhaps familiar to some of you.

Some businesses (Businesses hiring really smart people mind you) have been working with these machines you see. These machines are able to be linked together, they make more than the sum of their parts, they are used to formulate and solve problems outside your understanding. These things will be the only tool worth learning, a breaker in our technological evolution. There will be but a threshold, the before, the arcane, the analogue. Now we have the new, the sleek the digital.

Then the bubble popped... oopsy woopsy ¯\(ツ)

...But the Valleys Get Deeper and Deeper

For those playing the home game and are at a loss, I'm talking about the 90s ".com" bubble. I doubt that were I alive then I would have the wisdom to see through the hype. That I would be able to suss out that in spite of how impressive hardware is or may become, that these computers are just as paltry as any other tool when commoditized. The markets would correct, the business would follow suit. The time working as a html code monkey has run out.

The disregard for substance today... it's hard to take its measure. I have a strong conviction in my soul that Americans are currently on a similar trajectory as they were in the 90s. Here is a thought experiment: What is a "tech company" to you? I implore you to ask yourself earnestly. I've had the fortune of seeing more than one tech company to its conclusion while the getting was good, lining my pockets along the way. To be honest, I don't know how much I would call my work technical. I can frame my work in a lens to keep that from being an outright lie, but I won't pretend that it's convincing to even myself.

I'm not so foolish as to think think that I will end up unscathed as our current bubble pops. I'm also not going to pretend that I am different than the Boomers in the 60s or the Gen-Xers in the 90s. I'm doing the same looking at a younger generation saying "Fuck you; got mine." Bluntly, my intent is to prove that I am a problem solver and a worthwhile person to have in one's corner. It feels more prudent than ever to play my hand well, and make myself useful as a mover and shaker. Not that any of these perspectives are new, or a substantive course correction from my norm, just worth expressing that if things do go to shit I'll be around with my ears and eyes open.

Are you going to do something or just stand there and bleed?

I don't know how to point out the dialectic at play in my head as of late. I feel that I have (perhaps maladaptively) reinforced the position that I must always seek the path to better my condition. To take every interaction in my memory and try to wrangle it into a box labeled growth. I am the one who gallivants around making the big choices, min-maxing my kit, and ending on a pile of loot. Every option to be framed from the hero's perspective.

I know that's cringe. It hurt to type. Fighting that perspective however, is more alien to me than I would like to admit. It all feels like a neurotic ultra-liberal fixation that might have motivated and sustained me when I was younger, but now rings increasingly hollow.

I'm far too willfully American to be persuaded by this duplicitous world I've been painting. Life's been better to me than most. The form I have gains a lot from its position in this system. Being an Everyman, I can confidently tell you that power confers upon me. It's all encompassing and passive enough that I often miss it happening myself. You, dear reader, will never escape it or dismiss it with a privilege check. This power is indifferent to all of our perspectives. It often supersedes any point I intend to make as it's going to be the first thing that anyone not bestowed with it will interact with. To thrash against it is just as much a facade, concerning yourself with the optics of a position rather than holding it, and inspecting it does not seem to help from my anecdotal experience either.

I can't say if this current feeling is guilt, whether it's labeled sufficiently as privilege, or if I will hand-wave it as survivorship bias in the future. Likely things started falling apart before I got here and it's just nature to thrash. I could pretend that this all has little bearing on what the future holds, but I've never found the nihilist's perspective. From where I'm at it seems I've personally been fucking up most of everything along the way.

I've Tried Nothing, Everything Works

I know these things, and I still feel like shit all the time.

I'm more trying to construct a reason to clench my fists and rise above that is more concrete than innocent hopefulness. It's annoying to find myself again in this familiar old feeling, that depression is becoming my default. That depression is unremarkable and standardized.

Hey! That deeply personal struggle you have, with all its unique facets? Don't fret; everybody has it at some point. Come over here, and sit in the waiting room. Your therapist will have already printed out a spreadsheet with all of those pesky feelings little rows, ready to be checked. Once we are done here we can calculate what percentile you hit. Your very legitimate concerns with being unique might still ring true after all.

I had the chance to play Disco Elysum recently, it's one of the few pieces that felt like it understood me. If you haven't played it, you should. I won't spoil anything if you keep reading. But I want to highlight one of its perspectives on self harm and mental wellbeing. To make a long story short, a conclusion to the thought "Finger on the Eject Button" is spelled out in the following:

"...Turns out Finger On The Eject Button is pretty much your theme song. A headbanger from your teenage years and your wedding ballad. This is not the first time you're spinning the tape. This is not the first time you're spinning the tape." ~ Disco Elysium

I don't know whether I will hold this perspective for long, but this take on depressiveness and suicidally feels right on the money. I feel it worth expressing that these topics are often put into media for the spectacle, and often do more harm in glorifying or sensationalizing self-harm. While I can't claim that Disco Elysum's quote is tactful, it feels far more genuine than most everything else I've come across.

I think that the consistency of a depressive perspective is what gives it its power and weight. Whether my current perception is hopeful, longing, lustful, bliss, hatred, all the songs on the mixtape find there way back to dread. I imagine that most people when met with the call to the void instinctual head shake "no, no that's silly". That response is there, or rather, I know it should be. Instead my response seems to have always been:

"Well, it's not really convenient for anyone right now. I know that ideas like 'deserve' are trite, and that no one 'deserves' to be alive. I just don't believe it... That I 'deserve' to be alive... It's just that now is not a good time, I got shit that I said I would do for some people, and well... Going through with this would mean lot of extra work for people, and the paperwork! Some people would be really sad if not annoyed... and I just don't want to push more of that shit into the universe right now..." and by that point I've found something to do with my hands or get hungry and leave.

And after the fire, a soft murmuring sound

I guess what I'm saying is that I have no triumphant retort to this soundtrack. I don't expect to defeat these feelings anymore. I know by now that breaking the fourth wall and asking you again if you are still reading is pointless. Even if I had the ability, I wouldn't want to know. I'm not pretending that I have some answer to these universals. I'm just hopeful that if you can tell that a real living feeling creature wrote this, that it's normal for things to be this painful. That, in spite of how weird and scary and fucking confusing all of these life questions actually are, we are always answering with something.

These asides where I try and fail to distill a lifetime's worth of experience and emotion into some tangible nugget of truth always feels like risking a lot for very little. I have no expectations that anyone will vibe with any of this, and honestly, at this point, I'm accepting that it's fine to swear and be surly and show my soft white underbelly.

Darling, we have already failed at so many things, let's fail at our next endeavour.