When social media is all you have

It's 2024 as I pick up this old draft from 2021 and we've largely gone into full denial about the very much still ongoing covid pandemic. The going concern now is Omicron and its variants. Variants that, lucky for us all, are still well-controlled by the initial immunity of the vaccine and the boosters that are constantly updated to target new variants. The post is unchanged other than this little notice.

This post was actually for the project I'm doing now, with this blog, but life happened and I got sidetracked.

I didn't socialize a lot before the pandemic shifted everything online. I tend toward the extreme end of introversion, so a passing glance while out for a walk or a discussion about food with a stranger in a grocery store aisle usually fills up my social life tank. A natural writer.

So I didn't think isolating for a while would be so bad. A month? I can do it. Of course, we had no idea how bad it'd be, but there was talk of bending the curve, and a sharp decline in cases if everyone could just pull together and do their part until we had a vaccine.

A month became a quarter. A quarter became a year. A year became a year and three months, when I finally had my shots.

I didn't do so well. Still not doing well. I went deep into social media for the duration of those anxious unvaccinated months, all the while social media became noisier, angrier as it became clearer that our shared trauma of Donald Trump's presidency wouldn't end peacefully like most of the presidencies before. Takes flew in every direction, increasingly vociferous.

So I shut it down. I got off Twitter, so long my go-to way to socialize when a trip to the store or a walk were unviable options. I got off link aggregators like Reddit. I even stopped checking my RSS feeds.

But the pandemic isn't over. The going concern right now is the "Delta variant," or B.1.617.2 as named by the software called PANGOLIN, the name of one of the candidate animals for the initial spread and short for Phylogenetic Assignment of Named Global Outbreak Lineages. A mouthful.

The Delta variant takes menacing percentages off our mRNA vaccine saviors. It's not that bad, yet. Few fully-vaccinated people get one of the rare breakthrough infections, even fewer get seriously ill or die, and of those most are severely immunocompromised. Not great news if you're severely immunocompromised, of course.

I still don't want to die because I passed by patient zero of the mutation that breaks through my immunity. I resent the people profiting off spreading the misinformation that's kept vaccinations rates low. I resent the people who won't take the vaccine, which has a not very hard to grasp mechanism, and who won't even wear a mask.

And that resentment is fed by algorithms on social media because it's profitable to make me angry. I have to live with these people when this is all over. Most of them. We still have to have a country, governance, social life when this is all said and done.

So what to do instead?

It's actually part of what led me to launch this place. I have so many weird little ways to turn up interesting links. I have so many old link archives, saved pages, and so on. Here's what I'm doing to keep sane and not get out of touch with other people.

The big thing will be to feed these into Pocket's recommendation algorithms. Not all algorithms are bad. Mozilla, Pocket's owner, has different incentives. The ways I find these links to feed into it are my secret sauce, though I would share it if I didn't need to find a way to earn a living I can live with. Destroy capitalism, then ask me.


So many books. Some I've read part way, some I haven't started, some I want to reread. I have collections of favorite classic sci-fi authors, collections bought at discount early in the pandemic.

In particular:

I also have some non-furry novels and short story collections from places like Standard Ebooks and Project Gutenberg that I'll get to. The former has a lot more work done to make them accessible to contemporary audiences, but the considerable work done by the latter means there's something there for everyone.