2023: The Year of Rebirth
I’ve changed. A lot. I don’t know when it started happening, really. The past few years have been a blur. One minute I was a Halo-obsessed, class-ditching college student falling in love with his new best friend, the next I’m grinding out the “techtuber” lifestyle in a tiny apartment while trying to talk reason into the scummy MCN I worked for, the next I’m striking out on my own as a full-time YouTuber and streamer, then I realize the “Stream Professor” branding was something I should have accepted forever ago, then LTX hit me and shook my world [in a good way], suddenly I was having a kid and buying a house, and now I’m finally embracing more of my queer side, my spirituality, and my artistry.
I hate being stuck in boxes. I always have. It’s something that’s easy to write off: “Oh that’s just the ADHD” – but really, it’s become a core part of my personality, of my brain’s functioning. I went through super-nerd phases, hip-hop and rap phases, goth and emo phases, skater boi phases, hardcore gamer phases, and super techie phases – all just from elementary school until high school. Getting bored of one thing and hopping into another, but keeping each thing as a part of me along the way.
Maybe that’s what’s happening here. It’s hard to tell.
After I was so close to “giving up” on my YouTube career [I don’t even know what that would have looked like given it was my job sustaining myself, heh] going to LTX 2019 and feeling that sense of community and belonging for,– honestly? probably the first time ever,– YouTube-ing on a solo channel is an incredibly isolating activity, especially living in the not-quite-mid-west where no other big gathering of YouTubers are… just sparked something in me that never quite went away. It certainly invigorated me, sparked my motivations and drive back, and pushed me to really evaluate what I was doing on the channel and with my work. From there, I realized that locking down on the “OBS Professor”/“Stream Professor” branding that viewers had been assigning to me since my original OBS (Classic) coverage in 2013 was the “smart” play and really helped me feel like I actually fit the identity that had built up around me online. I had spent 12-13 years on YouTube at that point refusing to be tied to a niche and being unapologetically “me” – with all of the inconsistency and bouncing between interests that came with it – but it was so hard to get consistent viewership on such drastic shifts in content. So instead of running away from the box, I embraced it.
It was easy at first, felt like putting on a new pair of jeans and shoes and being the cool kid at school for the first time (or something, I don’t really know what that would be like) and it was easy to fall into the ADHD hyperfocus on that particular topic; especially since it was something I was good at and I had built up an authority on it, after all. Pair that with CES 2020 coverage and some big-name releases (Nvidia Turing GPUs with new NVENC encoders, big OBS updates, Ryzen 3000 and Threadripper) and I was on cloud nine. Well, for a while.
Some of it was easy coasting once my son was born and we had ~4-6 months of insomniatic zombie states, but once I started feeling human again those familiar itches returned. I wanted to talk about gaming again. I started getting into Pokemon cards again. I had finally started achieving hair styles I liked in 2019 for the first time since high school, and then shaved it off during the start of the pandemic, so I was getting back to that. I’m sure sleep deprivation collated and emphasized all of my ADHD habits into a super-mess, but I needed to scratch those itches.
This hasn’t gone away. I’ve launched new channels, fallen back in love and then come to hate Pokemon TCG again, wasting a few grand in the process, built and rebuilt my studio a few times to cater to my shifting interests as best I can:– They keep growing, after all, adding in glitchart, synth music experiments, crafts, 3D printing – I only have so much room! Currently I have YouTube channels going for gaming, AI and glitch art, with plans for a cooking channel with infrequent uploads (plus the main channel, of course). I started a documentary series with Nebula. But I still want to do more.
- I want to shoot and edit a music video.
- I want to sing.
- I want to learn synth.
- I want to paint.
- I want to make a game.
- I want to make multiple games in different genres.
- I want to make 3D printing projects that people would buy.
- I want to write a book.
- I want to play oh, so much more of my gaming backlog.
- But I also want to play so much Halo.
- I want tattoos.
- I want to work on massive AI art and VFX projects.
- I want to be a part of something bigger than myself. [No, not organized religion or a cult.]
- But also I want to be there to see every possible moment I can of my son, with my wife, as I know I will regret every little thing that I miss.
2023 is the year in which all of these changes solidify. The walls of my box will be torn down, ideally never to be put up again. With a shrinking of the financial stakes of my work on the horizon, I have more freedom to explore the not-immediately-profitable ideas I have.
The foundation is already in place, too. I’ve got new channels set up for my outlets. One is already bringing in a fair bit of revenue [or was when I was posting consistently. Techtober fucked that big time, but I should be able to pull it back once tech…vember ends (famous last words)]. I’ve reconstructed my studio again with a now hopefully optimized format that can facilitate my primary work, gaming, glitchart, photo editing and AI art, and 3D printing. Hopefully that’s enough.
I’ve got editors helping out to churn through all the extra content, and I’m really finding my groove with a lot of this. Hell, I’m even broadening my music horizons again which I rarely do. I’ve been writing this while jamming out to some Polyphia. Why the fuck haven’t I heard of them until this past month?!
Also my new studio cat, Render, loves watching me write, apparently.
These changes aren’t enough to qualify as a “rebirth” though, right? Why such bold claims. Well, I started writing this because it hit me just how symbolic the timing of all this is. All of these changes I’m feeling inside and about my own life are directly lining up with Twitter’s ongoing collapse. [This will not age well when Musk Magoo’s his way into keeping Twitter alive somehow, but that won’t stop the change that’s been started anyway.]
Instead of jumping in #NaNoWriMo late, I figured I’d get this blog going. This blog is part of that bigger ongoing change. I think the entire social internet is going through a (probably slow and not understood by everyone) rebirth right now. People are fed up with advertising, data tracking and privacy violations, with the idiocracy of SAAS. People are fed up with mega-corps and rich fuckbois ruining our clubhouses. The internet used to be this magical place where even the most outcast of misfits could find a community and a place to belong. Then we were robbed of our niche, community-ran places in lieu of megacorp profits-driven “platforms” designed to keep you on their site for your every need for as long as possible to wring every possible ad dollar out of you, and still stripping you of your privacy and data to sell that behind your back. Socializing for the anti-social online became “social networking” – which got distorted even further into “social media.” Democracies where literally disrupted. People have been brainwashed into reality-denying cults of not just the flat-earth insanity variety, but of the “election was rigged despite every ounce of proof to the contrary or opposite” variety, or the “he’s a really good businessman despite every possible data point saying he steals from people and only loses money” variety. [Frankly these are mild compared to much of the truth.]
The internet used to be a series of
tubes clubhouses where we made our own rules. The hacker and D&D groups from old movies. The internet today is more akin to the monolithic mega-corps that they made cyberpunk movies in the ‘80s to warn us against. I don’t want the Metaverse where when I try to open WinAmp, Zuck’s legless body shows up shouting “I AM THE LAW!”
The massive shift of users off of Twitter trying to explore what else is out there has finally brought the “Fediverse” or “decentralized internet” to the public eye in a good way. This time, without the blockchain crypto bullshit. Instead of “Web 3.0” let’s call it “Web3.5 II HD Re:birth”. Services ran without advertising, without any tracking of any sort, ran by communities for communities – like it used to be. The advantages of this don’t need to be political OR preachy. You the individual are in complete control of your data, your experience, and (if you want) your own server/instance of the service you’re using. The small niche communities centered around specific things or topics, fansites, personal blogs, etc. it’s all coming back. Not just with Mastodon, but so many other services like PeerTube and PixelFed (and WriteFreely as I’m using for this blog here) allowing people to quickly and sustainably build out massive services dedicated to specific services or communities – while still being completely scalable.
Plus, customization is back. Backgrounds, crazy widgets, personality is now legal on the internet again.
Look at this fucking Windows 95 Mastodon theme that @email@example.com found! I’m so sick of corporate bullshit profiles on major platforms.
All of this to say this shift has huge potential for lasting impact of people just being humans again on the net. It’s so fucking exciting.
But what does this have to do with my supposed rebirth?
Well, [ADHD hyperfixation or not] I’m all in on this now. I’ve seen the light. I’m not new to Mastodon or federated services in general – I was first introduced to them circa. 2017 – but most of the people I saw really going all-in on them wound up being radicalized people. People who I was friendly or colleagues with at one point that later went down some really dark rabbit holes that convinced them they needed to feed into insane ideologies to explain the world. While I was interested in the concepts at play, I didn’t exactly want to follow these people into battle. Then, the next big wave of “decentralization” talk came from the Silicon Valley Crypto bros and I wasn’t buying into that cult. But I do wish I had “been here all along.”
[Back to the point…]
In this shift, I am giving up a lot. I’ve removed my bookmarks and mobile icons for Twitter – my biggest non-YouTube profile with viewers and colleagues (and TONS of rad artists and photographers I have found and followed along the way) in one place. I’m not deleting my profile, I’m here to watch the site burn, but I’m very much cutting off this kind of networking and communication that I’ve been using since 2009. It’s a big change. I’m losing access to people and a channel with which people had ridiculously easy access to me. [The same (or more) access can be had on Discord or Mastodon anyway].
Despite easy growth and massive potential, I couldn’t deal with using TikTok regularly and the shady shit that happens on it, so I uninstalled it months ago. I’m setting up these new platforms, I’m having to learn and re-learn a lot of things, and I’m losing a lot of “reach” and “clout” along the way. But worth it, and necessary.
These things lining up at once just feels too symbolic to ignore. The internet is going through a major shift, I’m going through a major shift with my relationship with the internet, AND with my own personality and interests. That makes me feel more confident in the decision to cut ties with some of these platforms to help facilitate a healthier internet experience for everyone, and especially myself. I’ve lost way too much sleep, energy, fun, and productive time stressing over poor interactions, comments, and “playing the game” of social media. I was there to make friends and chat, and turning that into a pissing contest with follower counts and shit just ruined it all for me. I knew that for a long time, but I’m finally doing something about it.
2023 me is going to be a very different me. It’s scary, but I can’t wait to meet them.
In the meantime, I hope I can finally sleep. Finished writing this around 3:15AM as render is telling me it’s time to stop.
See you on the other side, fellow space cowboys.