Owl's Nest

Assorted Thoughts on Things

Thoughts on Contradictions


Thoughts from .

Thoughts on Social Images

This is a concept that I find incredibly helpful, especially online. I've told a few friends about it and they also found it helpful, so I figured it's worth flinging out there for internet strangers too.

When you meet people, they form an image of you in their mind. These images are formed out of their perceptions, emotions, and memories of you, and it's a hodgepodge that's used to understand, predict, and react to your actions. In short, it's their version of you. It's who they think you are.

These images will never be an exact representation of you. People's own biases and impressions go into them, and everyone has a different impression of you. Sometimes they'll be pretty close to reality. Other times, they'll be wildly different. Someone might have an image of you that's angry all the time, but the reality is that you just have a "resting bitch face" and are perfectly calm otherwise. Their image of you as an angry person doesn't mean you're actually angry.

You don't have to match any of these images. You're not obligated to be the person anyone else expects you to be. You're you regardless of how other people see you, and nothing they think is going to change that. Images of you are not who you are.

If everyone sees you as a friendly person, that doesn't mean you have to be nice or sociable. If someone sees you as a mentor, you're not obligated to mentor them. If they think you're evil for liking the Muppets, it doesn't mean you're implicitly horrible. All that an image tells you is that someone sees you a particular way. It's up to you to decide what to do with that information.

This is particularly relevant online, where it seems almost expected that you bare the depths of your soul in hopes of appealing to people. It's an approach that might not be the healthiest or safest idea, and it all hinges on the idea that someone's images have to be perfect replicas of them. Images will never be perfect replicas of you. It can be good to craft a more accurate image with close friends and family, but expecting strangers to get it right is absurd.

Heck, you can present different images to people on purpose. People's images aren't going to match who you are, so why not decide how you want to present yourself to others? You can hide and show sides of yourself at will to craft the image you want to present without that changing who you are inside. You're never required to show someone your whole self if you don't want to.

A corollary of this is that your images of others won't be perfect either. This is particularly useful in conflicts. You might think that someone hates your guts, but that image of them might not be accurate. The only way to find out is to ask them what they really think (ideally without accusing them of hating you). Check whether your impressions are accurate, and a lot of conflicts turn out to be minor misunderstandings.

Thoughts from .

Thoughts on Mortality

I've been biking along a trail lately, and most days I run into the people that feed the local feral cat colony. They're lovely people, the sort that would welcome you into their home for dinner on the day they met you.

I'm always struck by how they talk to me. Most of them are in the 50-70 age range, and there's the sense that they're desperate to pass on advice. One of them talks to me about how to live a good life every time he sees me; he says he wants to leave a positive impact on the world, even if it's small. He tells me to appreciate every day I have because they won't last forever. His health issues are catching up with him.

Another person is writing her autobiography. She told me today that she'd reached page 100 after 7 years of work, then lectured me on the Bible not being literal and the nature of good and evil (I'm not even Christian!). She told me that her brother had died of AIDS and had tried to push her onto a better career path at the end of his life.

A third person has family in Germany but lives here. She hasn't seen them since her father died 15 years ago and wants to go back before her mother dies too. She told me how beautiful her hometown is, and how much she misses it. She wants nothing more than to go home and visit the butcher and the baker with her siblings.

All of them have these stories. They've lost family and friends, and they're very aware that life doesn't last forever. They're pushing forwards with as much joy as they can muster and are doing their best to enjoy the moment. Every time we meet, they tell me to enjoy youth while I have it and live life one moment at a time. They tell me to appreciate my family and live authentically. And they're right.

I read an article a few years ago about what people said they regretted most at the end of life. A lot of them said they wished they'd been more present. They regretted spending too little time with the people they loved and worrying so much about things they couldn't control. They wished they'd taken that chance and worked towards that dream. People wished they'd lived. It stuck with me.

Life doesn't last forever. All you can do is enjoy the moment while you have it.

Thoughts from .

Thoughts on Mental Health

It's a bit of a rough day so far for me, but I realized something. I'm under a decent amount of stress right now. Just a few years ago, I would have been in horrible shape in the same situation. I would have been outright suicidal, having panic attacks, going on walks and not remembering how I got places, or even thinking my shadow was out to kill me (yes, that did happen once). I think most people would agree that I was in a bad place.

A few years of self-work and a little therapy later, and the same amount of stress only has me anxious enough to notice it. I'm not depressed by it, dissociating out of my mind, or escaping reality under the strain. I'm grounded. I just have a little chest tightness from anxiety that I'm able to notice, address, and mostly let go of by feeling the emotions underneath. It's a huge improvement. I'm able to cope with stressors much better and function without breaking down constantly. I'm still working on emotional tolerance and acceptance, but today shows me that I can do it.

Things do get better when you put in the work. It won't happen magically, but with effort over time, life improves. The work to get there does suck sometimes (hello, confronting my painful emotions instead of running away from them?) but it's worth it. You're worth it. If you're in the sort of mental shape I used to be in, I want you to know that you're not stuck there forever. Getting out of the pit is hard, but it can be done. It's a lot of baby steps that add up to climbing a mountain. Start small. No one expects you to change everything in a day, or even a month. It might take years, and you might not see payoffs right away, but you will look back one day and see how far you've come.

Thoughts from .

Thoughts on Social Media Discourse

It's funny how quickly social media discourse stops mattering when you minimize your exposure to it. Online, people argue about all sorts of things. It's easy to get caught up in thinking that they all matter when you're completely surrounded by petty arguments. But if you go offline and spend time around people, it becomes clear that very little of it matters. People don't run around hating on bi gays. No one knows what endogenic systems are, nor do they make a big deal about the issue if it's explained. If you start going off about whether bisexuality is transphobic (what?), you're either going to get corrected by someone in that community or wind up rambling at someone who has no idea what you're talking about. No one gives a single crap about most of it. The only things most people care about are the ones that actually make a difference for the average person: things like "trans people should have rights" and "Black lives matter". The big issues of human rights and equality matter; the niche slapfights of the internet over labels and tribal groups don't.

If you find you're getting stuck thinking about niche internet discourse all the time, it might be a good idea to step back a little. It's not a healthy dynamic to be constantly enraged at everyone online, and there are bigger issues than whether RandomPerson123 can use neopronouns or not. Let people be people and spend that energy on other things.

It's okay to filter out or block discourse. Offline life is stressful enough without adding a 24/7 stream of online crap. If it doesn't make you happy, it's okay to block it. You're not obligated to look at any of it. This is your online experience, and you make the rules.

Thoughts from .

Thoughts on Changing Labels

I had a conversation with someone recently about labels. Their mental health diagnosis had been changed, and they were struggling with what that meant for them. They felt like the change in diagnosis made their previous experiences fake. The only thing that had changed was their label, but they were questioning whether their experiences existed at all.

Labels, medical and otherwise, are just language. They try to describe something you experience. They might do a good job of that, or they might be totally wrong, but they're all attempts to describe you. They do not change what you are underneath. They do not control your experiences. You could call yourself an orange, but it will not magically turn you into an orange.

I think a lot of people get caught in this trap. They think that their labels define them. If someone changes their label, that can shake up everything they thought they knew about themselves. In reality, changing a label doesn't change who you are. It can help you change who you are if you want it to, but using a different word doesn't make you instantly transform. It doesn't make your experiences go away or invalidate you. No matter what you call it, something is still going on.

Language is just a tool, and it's important to remember that. Focus on what helps you and don't worry too much about what you call it.

Thoughts from .

Thoughts on Social Privacy

I was thinking last night about how it's becoming more and more common to put everything about yourself on the internet. I see people publicly listing every disorder they're diagnosed with or suspect, their medical histories, the ins and outs of their trauma, every little detail of their identities, and all alongside photos of themselves and personal information. It scares me. I wonder whether these people have considered that not everyone on the internet is kind, and that everything they put out there can be used as ammunition if someone gets that upset at them. Do they realize that sharing everything can be a safety hazard, especially attached to their faces? Why has it become okay to show internet strangers things you wouldn't show a stranger in the bad parts of town?

It worries me that this is becoming so common. Given the dangerous nature of internet culture and mobs, this is an outright safety hazard. I'm reviewing my own site today to reduce what I have because I realized that even my approach isn't conservative enough for my comfort on a public website. And I haven't even shared half of what a lot of other people do. There's a lot I will never say here because I am fully aware of how dangerous it is. Nothing can ever be truly deleted from the internet. If I put something about myself out there, I'd better be prepared for it to be used against me if someone decides they want to screw me over.

Let me put it this way. I was once posted to a forum made to mock and doxx people because I said "selves" instead of "self" (which is a silly thing to mock someone for). I was lucky. They only insulted me and didn't take it any further. But I've seen people mocked, harrassed, swamped in hate mail, and even doxxed over equally minor offenses. I've seen people's lives ruined over the tiniest things because enough information about them was public for someone to find where they lived, where they worked, and other sensitive information. Be very, very careful what you put in public spaces, and think before you post. If there were someone who hated your guts enough to cause real harm to you, what could they do with the information you put out there? Are you okay with that level of risk?

Thoughts from .

Thoughts on Headspace

I've noticed that the plural community tends to talk about headspace as though it's something only systems have, or as though every system has one in the same way. This isn't the case.

Put simply, headspace is what the inside of your mind looks like. When you turn your attention inwards, you've reached headspace. For many, this is a visual environment, though it doesn't have to be. Many people have non-visual headspaces. Headspace might be a soundscape, an empty void, a vast world, the inside of a room, or any other space. It could be a space you chose to make or something that exists on its own. There's a lot of variety.

Given that headspace is just the inside of your mind, anyone can have a headspace. You don't have to be plural to take a peek inside your head. The ways people use headspace tend to be different if they're not plural, but the space is often still there. Daydream paracosms are one particularly vivid example.

It also bothers me how headspace is mostly spoken about as a visual experience. I've met more than a handful of people who navigated headspace without visuals, whether that be through another sense or through intuition/"just knowing". These people tended to struggle with realizing they had a headspace because the narrative was so vision-oriented. A lot of valuable experiences aren't being recognized because they aren't visual.

Thoughts from .

Thoughts on settings menus

I just spent a good two minutes looking for the specific settings menu I wanted from an application- that might not seem like long, but I was looking for the general settings menu, something that's usually important in a highly customizable program like this one. It should be painfully easy to find, right? Something you can easily track down within thirty seconds? I thought so, but apparently not. There was a "customize" menu in the Tools dropdown, which if you ask me might have made sense in the the Styles dropdown as well, but it didn't have any of the settings I needed. Customize only let me change what was on the toolbars. Properties in the Files dropdown didn't have the settings I needed either, though apparently that lets me edit document metadata (despite the name "Properties" usually being reserved for the settings). View's dropdown had a User Interface menu that was just a bullet-pointed list of preconfigured options, which was also not what I was looking for (you might have realized what application I'm talking about by now if you use it). Right-clicking turned up nothing. Finally, I found Options at the very bottom of the Tools dropdown, after which I had to go through another menu within that to find the specific settings I wanted.

The worst part is that this isn't an isolated incident. I've noticed that finding the settings in different applications is getting more and more difficult, and that the settings are increasingly fragmented into different menus to the point where finding one specific option you want to change is like trying to find one specific beetle in a jungle. Even when the settings menu isn't fragmented into three or four different places, it's inconsistently placed. It might be under the file dropdown, but it might also be in edit, tools, view, or any number of other places, sometimes buried under other options. I remember that it used to be under the files dropdown more often than not, but now it's usually somewhere else and I have to wade through every dropdown and button in the program to find what I'm looking for. Sometimes I resort to an internet search just to find the settings menu!

You'd think that the settings of an application would be important enough to be placed in an easy-to-find, intuitive location that doesn't force the user to ask a search engine where to find it, but apparently that's not the case anymore.

Thoughts from .

Thoughts on light and dark themes

Today, I switched my computer over to a light theme (a modified version of the LuckyEyes color scheme) for the most part. I've kept my panels dark (color-tweaked Graphite Dark) because I find those easier to read and less distracting that way, and my terminal is dark because black backgrounds on terminals is such a strong association for me that a light terminal makes me think less before hitting enter on a command, but everything else is now light theme. I even reworked the colors of my browser homepage. I'm still balancing colors to minimize potential strain and getting my redshift settings comfortable, but readability has significantly improved for me.

I noticed that it's easier for me to read black text on white backgrounds than vice versa, meaning that a light theme is more usable in my case. I've had friends mention they read more easily with a light theme as well, which is a large part of why I changed the website's color scheme to dark text on a light background. For those who are newer to my site, it was previously a very dark blue background with white text. It looked nice, but people found it harder to read than a lighter color scheme, so I changed it. After all, the entire point of this website is to be read. If I can make it more readable, I will. I pass my colors through a contrast checker to be sure there's no accessiblity issues, for example. Changing to a light background and dark text is just another way to accomodate folks who can't read well with a dark theme.

Aesthetically, I love dark themes. I think they're beautiful, comfortable, and I'm generally drawn to them. I've been using the Gruvbox dark color scheme for the last year or so and have adored it, and I would have stuck with it if there wasn't a noticeable improvement in ease of reading. Usability always comes before aesthetics for me, and I'm plenty capable of getting an appealing light setup going. I am left with the issue of balancing contrast and eye strain when it comes to light themes, but that was an issue with dark themes as well and I've learned that a healthy dose of redshift or a warmed-up color scheme resolves that issue for me.

A screenshot of my desktop, showing the file manager and the settings to showcase the tweaks in the color scheme. The grays are lighter and the contrast is slightly reduced.

Thoughts from .

Thoughts on 40% keyboarding

I've been using a 40% keyboard for about a week now because my laptop keyboard is progressively giving up on being a functional keyboard (looking at you, x key that won't type an x). I have a full-size, but the 40% is much more portable, so that's what I've been using most of the time. It's surprisingly usable. I do think the full-size is easier and a little faster, but then again, I have more practice on it. The 40% mostly slows me down because I'm still memorizing the layers. All numbers are on layer 2, for example, which means I need to know what number key the % symbol is on to type that. On the plus side, it'll help me out with touch typing between the numbers and having a colemak-dh layer.

Probably the weirdest part is having the enter key right next to the spacebar. I have messed up a few times, but I've pretty much got it now. It just takes me a moment to remember that the enter key is there instead of on the right side. The right shift key is also next to the spacebar, which I thought I would have issues with but actually find more comfortable since I can use my thumb instead of my pinky. I find I'm using it more than the left one!

Overall, less of an issue than I thought it would be and totally usable as a daily driver with a little practice. It's a cute little thing, too. Most of what I need to adjust to is how close together the keys are and needing to use layers for some keys.

Thoughts from .

Thoughts on computer usability

Function should always come before form. It's fine and dandy having a gorgeous interface, but if the user can't figure out how to use it, then you're missing the point. Good UI design should be intuitive and follow conventions when reasonable (unless that convention causes problems). Things should be where most users in the target audience expect them to be. The same goes for customizing desktop interfaces. I have some complaints against "ricing" (customizing the desktop) when making it pretty starts cutting into usability. If you have trouble using a setup you customized, it might be worth thinking about whether you customized it to be pretty or practical. You can have both, but I don't think it's worth making your computer harder for you to use just to make it prettier. The whole point of having a computer is to use it for things. If the sole use is as decoration or as a customization sandbox, sure, go nuts and screw usability, but most computers need to be used for other things and thus usability should take precedence.

What that means for each person will be different. The key is remembering that it should make sense to you and make your life easier, not harder. Does that 90% transparency make your windows hard to read? Do you need to squint and lean in to read your taskbar because you tried to save space? Does that color palette hurt your eyes or make it too hard to distinguish things? Do you struggle to manipulate where your windows are? Are your shortcuts easy to remember and use? Can you easily read your fonts? Notice what you have to work around or struggle with and fix it.

Thoughts from .

Thoughts on eldritch nonhumanity

I had an interesting experience yesterday night. I ran into two other eldritch nonhumans for the first time, and the really wild part is that our experiences lined up for the most part. There were differences, as there always will be, but I was surprised at how much was the same. A connection to the void and mutual understanding of its nature (and a deep feeling of missing it and carrying a part of it), being confused at the association of the void with madness and corruption because it feels like home, a sense of something missing or empty, weird experiences with phantom limbs, feeling a need or hunger for significant and meaningful information and gaining energy from it, worrying about being crazy because of these experiences, and struggling to convey any of it in words because it just doesn't translate well.

It was incredible to not only find others, but to see that they understood. It's isolating to never see someone else that gets it, and to find two at once was something special. Even moreso that there were so many common threads, and that the nature of the conversation made it unlikely that those threads were created by bias or manipulation attempts. There's something there. Might be common cultural associations, something spiritual, sheer coicidence, who knows. But it's something.

Thoughts from .

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