I’ve been working for some time at my #deFB project, where, without closing my FB account I take gradual steps to unlatch from the teat. I’m ready for solid food again, and to decide when and what I eat at least somewhat independently.
Sometimes, this involves considering paying for content. Fortunately, my considering paying coincides with a small increase in funds that makes this possible. Suspending my Patreon creator account meant suspending the income from that, which–while small–was supporting all the other creators I support on Patreon. Without that, I’m just .paying. those creators, without any offset from my own creations. That’s not a small outlay, but it’s manageable. I’ve given myself three months to figure out what’s happening next.
But I’m also considering paying for a Medium subscription. I already paid for a year of Wired. I read, a lot, and I appreciate quality. The other publication I read enough to consider supporting is probably The Atlantic. I have a museum membership, and I’m considering a second one. Shifting my attention away from Facebook reminds me how much it costs to consume art (including writing) and how much it enriches me to consume art (especially but not exclusively writing) instead of the fluff I’ve used to keep myself from drowning these last bunch of years.
When I’m depressed, tired, angry, overwhelmed, anxious, or stressed, I can’t read big sentences with complex ideas–I get lost in them. My ability to consume deep content is heavily impacted by my mental state. This shouldn’t be a shock. There are all kinds of places in our culture where people who have more privilege and less stress are further advantaged by their ability to learn, in part because they aren’t trying to make their cerebral cortex function while their amygdala is running the show. Some people learn to function anyway. Some people learn to shut down their amygdala for short periods of time, but that takes energy. But I digress.
For two years, then, or possibly five or ten, I have been unable to really access depth of content. I thought it was graduate school that soured me on reading, but in retrospect I wonder if it was the stress of school, and the ordination/fellowshipping process of my denomination, and then serving congregations. I have been out of the congregational world now for eight years. At last, I think, my thinking is back on line. I’m ready to have hobbies for hobbies’ sake, and I’m ready to read again.
So what happens now? I want to be discerning, now that my palate has reawakened. Sure, I like the fluff for when I need fluff. But I also want the kinds of meaty, tangled things I can savor, with a thick mouthfeel and a flavor that lingers and holds over into the next dish.
And that means finding publications I like, that press the sides of my mind until they stretch to accommodate a growing thing, over and over again. I want to be heavy with thought. I want to be hungry, and then eat until I am full.
It is clear to me, from the way I spend my money when my income goes up, that it is possible to be generous and glad and good and monied all at once. I meet my needs, support my business, and then go find people doing things I love or admire and pay them for their work. I do not imagine that this pattern will change much with more money. It will just change the scale of things. Regular people with money in their pockets can truly be a force for good. One must simply remember that this is what we are here for, not forever, as Marge Piercy says, but for a long time*.
*from her poem, Seven of Pentacles