vulnerability: a blog

written by M. Chambers ๐Ÿ™‡๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ

A friend of mine has been telling me about BreadTube recently. Briefly, it's a catch-all term for YouTubers making videos where they discuss social, moral, cultural, and political topics with a very strong leftist point of view.

One of the best-known creators in this space is Natalie Wynn, who posts video essays on a channel called ContraPoints. This is not where I started learning about her, however; instead, I clicked through to HealthyGamerGG because I remembered seeing her name pop up in one of Dr. K's interviews. I like to start on familiar ground; knowing the style of Dr. K's interviews, I could get a sense for who Natalie is before watching her content proper. This was a good call, as I really enjoyed the two-hour-long exchange between them. It actually got me really excited to watch Natalie's videos.

What she posts to YouTube are not quick 5 minute surface-level clickbait traps riddled with ads, on the contrary. I specifically called them video essays earlier because they are quite often longer than an hour, very well-researched and presented (she used to be a PhD student in philosophy, after all), and tackle difficult or complicated topics.

When ContraPoints came up in the conversation with my friend, we were actually discussing cancel culture, so naturally he told me to watch her video aptly titled Canceling, which I did today. It starts of with a retelling of the canceling of James Charles that was prompted by a Tati WestBrook call out in one of her videos. I couldn't tell you what comes next, because that's where I stopped watching.

This video made me realize something about myself, and not because of its subject matter. While Wynn was explaining what happened to James Charles, she kept bringing up the online brigading that ensued, because of course that happened. This is the Internet we're talking about. And that's when I had to stop watching. Hearing about the social media discourse that followed Tati's accusations was enough to bring me back to where I was mentally when I deleted my social media accounts a couple of years ago. It made me realize how much calmer and devoid of drama my life has been ever since then, and how obviously problematic the online hivemind is when you take a step back to look at it. I would equate this sensation to watching Sunday Night Football when you haven't had a television cable subscription for a few years: it feels like an assault. In the latter case, you are violently assaulted by ad breaks, and in the former, by social media comments. In both cases, it can rapidly fill you with rage. I cannot put into words how much I do not miss the off the cuff armchair analysis of society on social media. Being brought back to that dark place angered me so much, I couldn't keep watching. I guess the wound is fresher than I thought it was. This is the entire reason I decided to remove myself from social media in the first place, so I guess it makes sense.

I'm glad I watched what little I did of that video, because I learned about myself and it strengthened my belief that quitting social media was a good decision for me. I am positive that is not what Natalie Wynn set out to do by releasing this particular video, but that's ok. I took from it what I could, and especially when hearing her discuss the kinds of topics she does, I think it's natural for my internal monologue to go to unexpected places. I'm happy I let it go there, but I think it's important I finish watching the video at some point. The fact that hearing about online brigading still makes me on edge probably means I have not taken the time to sit with this emotion long enough to see it through. There is still something there to work on.

Anyway, thanks Natalie.

Today was registration day! I was looking forward to it. This is when I was going to get my student ID, my student email, my books, my schedule, and everything else I need to get the academic year started on the right foot. It was also when I would set foot in my new college for the first time. Nice little square building with no campus to speak of. Easy to navigate. I like that.

I'm sure you have been asked this question before: if you could take all the knowledge and baggage you have now, bring it back to the past, and start over; would you do it? It doesn't matter what you answer, of course, because this is a hypothetical scenario. It's just an exercise for the mind. Or is it?

I have always answered that question with a resounding YES, PLEASE. I have some regrets in life, and one of them is how I handled school throughout my life. I'm a high-school dropout who decided to finally take the plunge and go to college in his mid-20s after a series of uneventful, mentally-draining years. Even though I thought I had my priorities straight at the time, I ended up treating college as an after-thought just like I had done all the way through high school. I was disappointed in myself, but now, I get to do it all over again.

Ten years have passed and it's now time for my big redo. I actually get to take everything I know now and bring it back with me to the past. I get to go in fresh and decide how I want to handle my future. This is an amazing and rare opportunity. I'm currently in the process of organizing my digital life around school, testing different apps and methods of working, which will hopefully make for content for this blog in the near future.

I want to make the most of this, and it is one of the reasons I'm publicly documenting the process โ€” it forces me to be accountable. I realize I am in a very privileged position. Not everyone gets to go back to school a second time, let alone go once. School is so incredibly expensive. However, I'm willing to take this gamble because my professional life was going nowhere. It's time to right the proverbial ship.

back to school

I'm 34 years old and I have just decided to back to school. It's a 10 month computer security and systems management program in a private college. This blog is going to be the cyber-space where I dump my thoughts for those who wish to follow my journey.

So far, my plan is to document everything I do in school. This will serve two purposes: potentially help or entertain someone looking into going (back) to school in a related field, but mostly it will help me organize my thoughts and lay the foundation upon which I will build the structure of my studies. What I'm saying is this project is very selfish, which is the best kind of project.

a little bit about my background in computers

The first personal computer we had in the house was a Tandy 1000, which was a hand-me-down from my uncle. The UI was a combination of yellow and blue, and it ran programs stored on 3.5-inch floppy disks. I mostly played Mini-Putt on it.

Shortly after graduating high school by mistake in 2005 (this is a story for another post), I got a proper PC running Windows 98 SE for around $45. I mostly used it to copy music from compact discs on to the hard drive and play it on Winamp and post on message boards. It really whipped the llama's ass.

After owning several desktop PCs running a collection of outdated Windows operating systems, I built my first gaming PC in 2013. This was my main computer until 2020. Excellent value for around $650 CAD. I mostly used it to play computer games I bought on Steam and do school work I hated.

My main machine is now a 13-inch 2020 Intel MacBook Pro, the first non-butterfly keyboard model since 2015. It serves me well for now, and I mostly use it to read RSS feeds, blogs, newsletters, PDFs, and write Markdown-formatted text in Obsidian. I love the Mac, and I love Apple technologies in general.

Next week or the one after, I will be getting my hands on a school-provided Windows laptop. I'm looking forward to it, but my guess is that my MacBook Pro will remain my personal machine for the time being. We'll see.

Thanks for reading. We'll have fun this next year.

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