A modest epiphany

I got fed up consuming online, so I stopped doing it. Then I started writing stories.

I became fed up with TV long ago. Over time my internet use seemed out of control and overwhelming. So I gave it up too except for specific uses, like updating this website and sending emails. I’m barely online now. I’m connected, but rarely connect.

Then I focused on writing, a lifelong ambition. I started with small pieces, tiny stories, then longer and longer pieces as my attention span grew in strength. 10,000 word short stories emerged because I needed the space to tell longer stories I didn’t know I had in me. Then I began writing novellas and books. I pulled away from internet consumption and started producing. Nothing fancy, no big revelation. I just moved in a new direction. It was easier than I’d imagined.

I don’t have any social media accounts, no Facebook or Twitter. It is just this website. I occasionally use some forums, like Reddit. People keep telling me Reddit is social media, but for me it is just a forum. A place to pose and answer questions, sometimes talk to friendly people. Then I log out. I know there is a ton of other stuff on there but I never look at it. I don’t get notifications and I don’t use the app.

I got tired of the frantic pace of the online world, despite its early promise as a space for deeper content. Great content certainly exists, but the direction of travel seems to be more speed and less depth. Instant messages, one-click sharing, minimal effort. Now, now, now. Push notifications pinging on your phone, everything hijacking your attention, demanding an immediate response. Much of it is well designed, and most of it is designed to capture our limited attention spans.

None of it worked well for me. The deeper I got the shallower I became. When I pulled away I became a little more centred. I stopped reading news and, after a time, realized I found news problematic. It seemed to be the same recycled stories always presented as a catastrophe. A new president who was going to be the next Hitler; an isolated event blown out of proportion; the world is about to end despite it getting better and more wealthy by most objective measures.

I gave it all up and realized that far from becoming a hermit I simply felt calmer. I had more time and mental space, both of which I felt I lacked. It didn’t feel like I lost out on anything, except the drama and the artificial calamities. I didn’t miss any of it.

Nor did I feel superior. These days when I see someone walk down the street staring at their screen, lost in their own dopamine loop, I don’t feel smug or superior, I just wonder if they will think the attention they are spending will be worth it a year from now, or ten years from now. It seems doubtful.

And we are spending it. We are using up our limited existence on things we know are not that great. I felt that way and eventually pulled away from it.

I get the attraction and the appeal. It’s exciting. It’s fun. But it became less fun for me, that’s all. So I chucked it. I just walked away. It didn’t take superhuman discipline. Normal human discipline was enough. It didn’t even take discipline as such, just a shift in focus. That’s what surprised me the most. I’d built up my habits in my mind into some unshakeable addiction, but they were just habits as all addictions really are.

This isn’t a rant about other people, a dig at their behaviour. We all have bad habits, including me. Just my own tiny epiphany. I came to realize I didn’t really enjoy my internet consumption; it felt increasingly pointless. It didn’t feel good.

As an avid reader I’d noticed I was accumulating more and more books I wasn’t reading. It got to a point I measured my unread books in feet and inches. I had about five feet of unread books. Most of it was great stuff; we seem to live in a golden era for non-fiction. I had interesting, well-researched books on neuroplasticity, the reasons why we sleep and even big utopian visions of how society ought to work (as laughable as they often are).

And yet there I was watching humorous fail videos, people being hit by planks of wood or skateboarding into brick walls. I hit rock bottom when I found myself actively searching for videos about wild animals attacking humans. What was I doing?

This website is the result of all that. It is not fancy. There are no animated, attention-grabbing graphics. Some of the short stories aren’t short. Some people think I’m crazy giving away tens of thousands of words for free. There are no popups obscuring the content. I’m not trying to enrol you in my super duper training program with an exclusive free giveaway training package worth $500. You can subscribe to the site and there are a few more stories available, but you don’t have to as most of it is freely available.

So there it is. I hope you enjoy it. And if you want to be scared witless, disturbed, shocked or frightened into buying some crap you don’t need, you’re on the wrong website 😵

About me

I am someone who writes stories and I live in the UK. I’m not trying to do anything beyond that, to convince you to buy anything. That sentence above is my full bio. Does anyone buy books because they like the author, because some online persona seems exciting or daring? I’m not convinced.

I also dislike aggressive self-promotion. I mean, I get why people do it. If you like me you’ll like my stuff. But it is uncomfortable. I’ve often thought that self-promotion is probably impossible. People who seem gifted at it are probably just good actors. It’s a performance; they are selling an image, not themselves, so it often doesn’t seem like self-promotion at all. Do you agree?

I’m not having a dig at them. There is just something false about a squeaky clean image, perfect hair and makeup, and being seen in all the right places. If we really did self-promotion we’d be selling bad hair, a pile of ironing and worries about our poor financial decisions. That’s who most of us really are. We’d be selling chaos because that’s what life is. It’s a mess.

I write stuff; stories, books, that kind of thing. I’m not tall and handsome, I don’t have a six-pack. I don’t backpack across Asia with nothing but four items of clothing and a water bottle. I’m not trying to convince you I’m superman, that I’m somehow superior to mere mortals like you. I’m mortal too. I don’t have a showbiz lifestyle.

I’ve read all the stuff on how to win at life. I know how dynamic I’m meant to be. Some of it is great, truly inspirational. But after a while I realized all that go-go-go stuff was just another form of consumption for me. Reading uplifting you-can-do-it material becomes worthless after a while if you don’t actually do anything. It is a comforting form of procrastination. It feels like you’re doing something when in fact you are just reading something.

I was waiting for something extraordinary to happen but as the years wasted on, nothing ever did unless I caused it.
—Charles Bukowski, quoted on Nitch

After a while I understood I wasn’t doing, I wasn’t producing. So I started producing. The produced stuff is here on this website. Help yourself. I hope you like it.

GD 🤓

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