Dangerous Technology…For Freedom, Seek Trees.

 

dcnr_20027874

This is a picture of Ridley Creek State Park in Delaware County, Pa.  My favorite park in the entire world.  Go here if you get the chance.

Uniformly, throughout the entire social sphere of friends I’ve kept throughout the years- it’s pretty safe to say that the vast majority of people in their early 30’s have grown far too sedentary in an almost forgetful sense.

Now that we all have families, bills, and responsibilities, the nature of our activities have changed.   One thing we all had in common in our late teens and early twenties was the unspoken assumption that “hanging out” would occur in the woods.  Almost every single close friend I had either lived within a wooded area, or we would drive to some obscure wooded location and hike around for hours, just talking and watching for animals.

Of course, there is always the possibility I’m just a stubborn asshole who was impossible to convince to come out of seclusion otherwise- I honestly don’t know.  My memory is shit.

However- My observation of the present is still working quite well…and looking down the list of phone numbers in my cell phone, the vast majority of my old hiking buddies locally no longer are able or willing, and those that still make a daily trek into nature either now live on the West Coast or bizarre states shaped like quadrilaterals (adjacent to the West Coast).

For the area I grew up in, Haverford, very few of my peers remain in the area as we are entirely Priced Out of the Main Line entirely for the most part.  The few who remain in the area either live with other family members or have moved to areas nearby that are less safe and far less scenic with much less access to parks and wildlife.  They are 2 hours from me.

For my friends in Bucks county who live around Nockamixon and Peace Valley- they are still in the area, however work and home responsibilities keep all but a single family I know away from the woods, except for those who continue to live in homes literally inside of park territory… and even then, those who live in those homes are enjoying the trees from the inside as they are cleaning crayons off the wall or tethered to their computers for work or leisure. They are over an hour from me and have shitty traffic.

Of course, the Heathens go outside for Sumbel, but our very paleness shows our Morlock,  subterranean natures of our respective lives….all of us housed in our boxes of home and office.

Since I adopted my husky, Ziu, two days ago- it seems he will only take a shit after a conservative estimate of a two mile “walk” which involved wind-sprints and several stops to reward the dog with differing amounts of boiled chicken every single time he made a bowel or bladder movement as a sort of bizarre canine financial transaction involving poultry as currency.

After my surgery in September- I found I have the ability to jog again after years of literally not being physically capable of doing so on account of scar adhesion in my torso.  Now I CAN run…technically, kind of.  Instead of not being able to actually perform the action- I have kidney stones that like to rattle around enough to make me fall to my knees on occasion and then find I’m pissing blood when I finally return inside.

To accommodate for this- there is random patio chairs now situated in convenient locations across the yard so I can sit and clutch my stomach as the dog looks at me blankly as if to say:

“If we don’t run, I won’t poo….but you’re cold, let’s go inside and I’ll just poo there.”

His concern is touching…. in a weird dog sort of way.

But what really struck me was last night…after I was outside for a solid three hours holding a leash in one hand, a flashlight in the other and sitting on the chair in stalemate with said dog my husband came out extraordinarily concerned about the amount of time I had been outside.

I honestly didn’t mind.  We live at the junction of two streams-  We have a flock of several dozen mallards and down in the stream, there are still occasional fish to watch swim around.  It’s actually quite nice.   The weather was a nice, dry cold (comparably for Pennsylvania…it’s not Montana).

I then realized how strange it was how much the ENTIRETY of the culture surrounding me had changed in under ten years.   Sure, I walked around my college campus often, but it’s nothing compared to walking someplace with no pavement and no visible roads. Our dog trail is two miles long, owned by the township, runs through our backyard and prior to the husky we used it twice…maybe.  Natasha’s coat is too short for long outings in the cold.  (however, we got her in September- I imagine summer will be a different case entirely)

I know it’s not just myself who had become “unplugged” from nature- going into nature instead of being the natural state of being has somehow transitioned into being an hour event for sumbels and “as needed” for when short-furred Natasha needs to relieve herself or we run like squirrels to retrieve our mail and take out the garbage only to run back into the house again away from the mild discomfort of “weather”.

I have spent several hundred days of my life online in some form.

From the time I was a child, there was rarely a day I did not spend at least an hour or more outside- either playing when I was younger, walking my coydog in my teens, or with friends in my young adulthood.

Woods, woods, and more woods.   When I moved to Winthrop, Massachusetts in 2002 for the AmeriCorps, there were no woods, but instead I found myself walking the entire beach around the peninsula as well as attached Deer Island for an hour each night unless the weather was literally dangerous; Sleet/torrential rain drowned us out pretty easily- I was glad I rented an attic bedroom and often I recall slowly driving my car through roads of a few inches of water slowly until I reached higher grounds.

Even after Winthrop, I still hiked wherever I lived:  Minnesota I would bring one of the “yard mutts” at the wolf refuge with me as I hit the trails across the street.  In Peekskill, NY- I was fortunate to rent a room in a mansion with extensive grounds that included a small lake and complete isolation except for our gravel driveway.

I moved back to Pennsylvania- when I visited my grandparents on the Main Line- I would drive the extra 20 minutes to walk in Ridley Creek State Park, when I worked jobs that required travel around King of Prussia, you could find me spending extended lunch breaks in Valley Forge National Park…. and in these parks, it was never unusual to encounter my friends at that time.

As time passed from mid-to late twenties and early to mid thirties, most of us had fallen into a sort of anti-nature routine where our only exposures outdoors were brief.  Friends to hike with became fewer until it became an activity we only accomplished when friends from over an hour away visit or with acquaintances who never stopped being outdoors- but also never stopped the reckless activities of teenagers, either.   Hiking is GREAT- hiking with drunk people on meth when we do neither as a way to keep them from being suicidal?  Not so great.

Over the past three years, friends have moved out of state and those who had addiction problems ended up becoming even more mired in their respective addictions to the point where we had to entirely remove ourselves from a confusing amount of people we counted a close friends who ended up on meth or cocaine- from every imaginable walk of life and not just Heathens, either.

We hiked on dates three years ago, then my health deteriorated on account of Lyme’s disease and then, more recently, being forced to wait for several months to have my ovary (and surrounding scar tissue) removed which made me lazy and inert to a level I had not been since that two year stint I ran a “Hardcore” raiding guild on World of Warcraft and lived in a fantasy world of elves and dwarves to avoid the awful reality of being in a terrible relationship, stuck in jobs I hated, to pay bills that never ended and always seemed to have some problem such as double-charging my accounts or being constantly on guard against utility companies taking advantage of me on account of my youth in believing that I would not question sudden, miscellaneous charges I had not experienced prior.

Also- during those two years, I did not go outside despite living literally in the middle of the woods then as I do now, I seldom left the house for nature’s sake except for a couple of times a month, if that.

Now- I am back outside, and I realize how strange it has become that nature had mistakenly been my unnamed “enemy” in favor of online distractions which accomplished nothing much at all- such as facebook or silly little puzzle games.

I have no compunction against stating I believe we are being mass-brainwashed by technologies.

I am frustrated when I see friends of mine glued to their cellphones.  I hardly even text and when I attempt to reconnect with real-life people….I find their primary means of communication is a series of sentences delivered via texting instead of even the decency of a phone call.  Chatting online is emotionless except for manufactured emoji’s and memes (some of which I created myself) to replace the loss of tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions we now lack in most interactions with others.

Then, even worse-  the nature of social networking makes it impossible to entirely and completely remove people from your life where in the past- natural aversion would take its course.

Belonging to online communities of thousands means you use “block” at your peril.   I use the feature frequently and find myself chastised for it.   Why on Earth would I want to interact with people who do nothing but speak in ad hominem regarding me?  In real life, there are always methods of avoidance.  Online, even if blocked, these people remain like splinters in your lives that can only be removed by removing the entire area in which they reside, usually painfully if it’s a forum or topic you like particularly.

I am in the trap where I moderate several online forums and pages at this time- it was one way to find a rabbit hole away from not just harmful acquaintances, but also this new phenomenon of a sea of “internet people”-  those who only seem to exist online but real life friendship never occurs since their online persona(e) tends to be entirely different than the life they lead physically and meeting would lead to “seeing the man behind the mask”.

I have kidney pain,  my foot is still kind of gimpy from a broken toe I never bothered to check out and now I am forced to if I want to be able to actually take proper care of my animals without causing further damage to my foot and ligaments.  (appointment Tues)…but only 3 days of just being OUTSIDE has literally made me stop caring about so many things I Only Care About On The Internet ™…. from the presidential race to the utterly bizarre addiction to living vicariously through other’s pictures of meals and travel photographs.

As a culture, we have become domesticated Iguanas who only move to feed or to find a warm rock to lay on and grow fat- and I am not an exception.

The exception is in seeing this new culture of being “plugged in”- unbiased and without filter.

Being outside for three hours gave me the inspiration to write this post- which although is online, is still actually CREATING something…anything.   Most of what my generations creates in their free time is text messages, and accomplishments on Candy Crush.

All things are fine in moderation- but when one can look back on most encounters with non-Heathens, including close friends and relations- it seems more time is spent with them looking at their phones, texting on their phones, or generally being entirely DISENGAGED from physical reality entirely…again, except to eat, shit, and find physical comfort.

I really do not want to be pulled further into that black hole- but keeping a balance is extraordinarily difficult.

Friends who have left social media entirely, coincidentally, are also next to completely inaccessible.  Those are generally the same people who have disconnected their cell phones and almost demand you live within the same town for any interpersonal interaction- with home prices being prohibitive, staying close to friends is difficult, along with a changing job market which requires constant movement across the country (and in some cases, the world) in many fields, not to mention the lack of job options which forces people either into long commutes to spend 8 hours with strangers they hate apart from the family they slowly grow ever further distant- which explains just one reason why divorce is so prevalent and most of my friends are either divorced, perpetually single, or both.

It’s fantastic we all now have the ability to find our “bff’s” from grammar school just by searching their name, but it’s also terrifying that we can be so easily traced and found at the same time.  Maybe it’s because I’m a Baltic who lived during the cold war with my grandma’s phonelines tapped and seeing her friend-group of ancient old Latvian ladies under suspicion constantly for being spies for having the audacity to “return home” to Latvia for holidays and choose to live here instead of behind the iron curtain.

The only example I can give that I think I can communicate well is during the era of McCarthyism, privacy and the destruction there of became the catalyst for the destruction of countless lives and families where people even insinuated to be “commies” were treated with extreme prejudice… this came almost directly and in reaction to the atrocities of WWII where, again- our rights to privacy were invaded and scrutinized by our government and neighbors out of fears of “sympathy” to our imagined devils of Japanese and Germans living here on our own soil who honestly had nothing to do with the conflicts occurring abroad.

However, those prejudices were long-lasting… now, prejudices and what is considered “politically correct” seems to change rapidly- so rapidly that obscenely stupid decisions made by people in the “correct” circumstances/time frame are lauded to the point of denying the flaws inherent in each human…and those who err, whether slight or egregiously are treated with the same level of malice.

With that being said:  Caitlyn Jenner should not have won woman of the year- with a history of unapologetic vehicular manslaughter… the other nominees for the award were staggeringly more qualified.   Knowing several people in transition as well- Jenner did not help to normalize the stigma for that population, but made a farce of it in my opinion simply because wearing a dress and getting boobs is no where near as traumatizing as the typical family and community stigma, and alienation so many of my trans and chimera friends experience daily.  Jenner is nothing more than yet another celebrity with a magic bank account.  There are better examples for the transgender community to look to, such as Chaz Bono, Laverne Cox, Lana Wachowski , and especially Billie Tipton.

Bill Cosby is a rapist who deserves no quarter.

A picture of a woman wearing the “wrong” outfit, however, will receive equal amounts of negative attention- as do comments made by any gender regarding any number of recently created micro-crisis such as MRA, Excessive Gender terminology, #[insert]livesmatter, or even the vegans screaming at meat eaters over their dietary choices to the point of literal, hostile harassment all the while crowing about some sort of ethical “higher ground” for a diet that literally would be impossible for those who do not live in temperate or tropical regions without the subjugation of people in tropical climates to grow enough obscure produces to meet the dietary demands of some random people in Sweden or metropolitan areas of the united states where vegan options are plentiful.

There seems to be absolutely no comprehension of poverty and those who do not have internet to explain that Veganism doesn’t work for people with IBS, ignores the high costs associated with the lifestyle making it impossible for the impoverished to receive all their vital nutrients without sacrificing rent money….and further, only works RIGHT NOW in most colder climates on account of NATO.

Our country is dividing pretty dramatically between people who are “plugged in and socially aware” by their standards, and newly minted introverts who are dramatically striving to become independent from all of this- by homesteading, mostly….attempting to grow their own food again when every generation from Baby Boomer’s forward was ingrained with the false idea that farmers and those who do manual labor for a living are somehow inferior to those who sit behind a desk for 8 hours literally doing nothing but communicating with strangers in some way with no interaction or desire for interaction with their communities any longer.  There just isn’t the time to do both in most people’s lives.

The introverted homesteaders are basically comprised of several subgroups and related demonetization as well: seen as Doomsday prepping lunatics, cultists, backwards, uneducated, fundamentalist, or even racist by association since some Asatru and Christian homesteaders happen to be all about the Hitler nonsense. (Other religions seem immune).

We have a nation of renters who have no desire to own land or have any civic interactions with their community barring an occasional vote for marijuana legislation or to beg for clean water and improved education for our children.

Honestly, I’m fucking scared…and I think almost everyone feels the same way to some degree but few can really put words as to “why”… I know why I am, and I can only theorize about the nature of other humans:

To me, I see most of the internet as mental anesthesia-  there is a hell of a lot of pain that comes from broken families, broken relationships, unfullfilling work, and people who in an agrarian society who would be perfectly functional are forced into disability because many people cannot meet the rigid requirements of typical employment on account of health issues where working on the homestead can be done in between episodes or with the help of family and friends working together to make up for the disability instead of the embarrassment of having to apply to jobs and disclose “I have a personal health condition, here are my private details on that health condition- some weeks, I cannot work at all when said health condition is effecting my body.”

In a poor economy, no employer in their right mind would hire that person, no matter how qualified, when they can get an equally qualified individual without the medical issues that would leave the cubical absent instead of filled with yet another human drone to pick up the phone, write the numbers, or create the webpages…and the people in those positions actually ENVY those of us on disability while we struggle against our health insurance at least weekly to cover the necessary treatments and medications that keep us alive and stable.

That resentment is another reason I am scared.  I am on disability, my husband has a factory job.  I make less than poverty in subsidies as Medicare refuses to give authorization for treatment to improve my condition rather than simply “stabilize” my cardiac and mental impairments which are rather easier to treat in other first world countries, but not so much here….as yet ANOTHER group of people seems to be metaphorically screaming “AMERICA IS #1!!!!” ad nauseum and to point out personal experience with flaws in our government system in comparison to other places one is instantly met with McCarthy like disdain for even dare to critique in a way that is not currently in vogue.

Criticism is acceptable on certain topics- and those topics change from person to person.

I don’t even know or recognize most “current” celebrities or new musicians, and for that- my lack of interest and knowledge of these people I will never meet combine with my innate disdain for consumerism which makes me feel strange and awkward with even people my own age further than ever before.

I have always journaled since I could write, and with my shaking hands a pc is a godssend- but to record my thoughts online is nothing new, just the attention I get for it is new.

I really do not have a solution to the current problems I am observing- In spending more time out in nature- I think with a terrible clarity but with that clarity comes unpopular observations, uncomfortable realizations, and halcyon memories of grabbing some jerky and a liter of water to go out into the woods for a day with friends who no longer see the woods outside of the lives they live through vicariously through television and video games- and I am no exception at times.

To become one with the current culture is to be miserable, on edge, and feel suffocated by people I would be forced to tolerate but cannot affect change upon their actions to make them not lying shitbags with a code of ethics as flimsy as a cellphone with planned obsolesce.

To keep up, you need to be shallow as a puddle and willing to change the entirety of how you present yourself to the world based on ever changing standards of behavior, speech, and very temporary ethics.

I will never fit in, anywhere.  I’m okay with that right now.

Advertisements

6 Responses to “Dangerous Technology…For Freedom, Seek Trees.”

  1. I’m completely out of touch with pop culture and I’m ok with that- since I got the Morlock reference without missing a beat.

    If you ever decide to travel down to southern MD- I know, with dogs that’s a long haul- you have a standing invitation to come hike the farm. It’s not much, but I’m rather proud of it.

    • We’d love to spend a day with the goatlings 🙂 getting a permit for them in our township is prohibive…

      • I guess they do fall under some different rules in some areas. Let me know if/when you might want to visit. We can work something out. 🙂

      • Excellent! We’ve had so many terrible houseguests over the years we choose to be “Hotel people who visit friends”- meaning we won’t need a couch or to stress you, but we do wish to travel a little more. Both of us have become agoraphobic over the past few years when it is an unnatural state of being for both of us.

        I was well-known for pursuing opportunity and adventure in the weirdest, most obscure places within a 5 day drive, and Eddie was a competition Kung Fu artist.

        For both of us to fear travel is an imbalance we both need to correct.

        Even worse- it extended to parks and woods for the last 3 years. Before Ziu came, we hiked ONCE last year. Once.

        We’ve hiked twice every single day since Saturday…nothing like we used to. Both of us were “machete hikers” but didn’t know each other for years. We’d go into parks and clear our own trails- I used to check-in with rangers first, though 😉

        Now- we’re out of breath from 2 miles of walking in a straight grass path beside a creek with no people surrounded by woods and the distant backyards of our neighbors who we know and trust.

        I guess you can say we’ve been hurt a little, together- but not by each other… I think all the slander got to us that deeply from our local Heathen community.

        Slander is saying something untrue because you don’t like someone.
        Telling someone something they don’t want to hear if it’s true is not slander, it’s just honesty.

        The difference can often be found in the use of/absence of ad hominems.

        So, for instance:

        Ed has been accused of being a Necromancer by an AFA rep. Idiots actually believe her and she is influential.- That is slander
        The same AFA rep told us we were not permitted to attend an open Hof ritual and hail our patron Gods because they are controversial: We exposed this.- That was honesty.

        Here is a Troth example:

        A third party woman tells the entire community that my husband is a “rapist” claiming her friend was raped by him. This is a serious charge to leverage!

        The truth: He never slept with the woman he was accused of raping- in fact, she sent him several hundred explicit texts messages while being married to someone else. She never accused him of rape, a police officer never came, there was no rape. That woman was even found fucking one of the Wiccan dudes very shortly thereafter which ended up tearing apart part of the Wiccan community as well- coincidentally, a coven with two of my longest-standing friends (since age 12).

        We ask for public mediation with the woman spreading the story- in public, with a Troth official demanding that this stop and we be issued a public apology and she is granted a full Shun for her actions.

        We have never had the police even call us and we can bring documentation to prove he has never been accused of any such nonsense whatsoever.

        The Troth abandoned us, and although we did not pay dues this year on account of my chaplaincy to not “take sides” and join ANY national organization (possibly losing my multi-faith status), we still supported their events and still befriend many of their members locally.

  2. An Andromedian Says:

    As far as the culture goes, it’s just the force of gravity. If you let something fall, it will.

    As far as friends go, oh believe me, you have friends, Ren. 🙂

    The old friends are falling away from your life to make way for the new ones.

    Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: