Dec 26, 2015

Eight years of blogging

I did one of these things last year, where I basically said that I'm better, but not well, and I still have this blog although I don't really see the point of it. I could just say that that's all still true and be done with it, because it is.

In terms of my so-called public life, over the past year I did pretty much decide that there's no point to any of it. I deleted most of the posts on this blog; the quasi-serious stuff hadn't aged particularly well and the rest even worse. I completely deleted my attempt at a somewhat serious Finnish-language blog, because it had become completely pointless. No-one's missed either, so it seems to have been the right decision. When Finland got a new cabinet this year, I was moved to write some very basic stuff on their various economic policies, which some people said they liked, which was really nice. Also, the amount of abuse, hatred and death threats I get is much lower when I write in English. But again, it's hard to see any point to doing this kind of stuff. The processes I described in my previous yearly review have continued: the atmosphere of violent, brutal bullying directed at anyone who doesn't clearly affiliate themselves to an existing political subculture has become far worse than it was before. The Finnish university cuts and the debate around them has really underlined that this is turning into an aggressively stupid country that's proud of its disdain for science, research and thought. I've tried to do my best to counteract this development, in blogging and generally trying to make a nuisance of myself on the social media and what have you. Clearly it's been in vain. So I've quit. I don't see the point of trying to participate in a public debate that's not in any meaningful sense a debate.

Quite frankly, trying to blog or increasingly, to even talk about anything more serious isn't by any stretch worth the investment. Therefore, I intend to focus on doing things that I enjoy. I recognize that being able to do this is testament to my massive privilege, but I don't see any way of doing anything meaningfully positive. My opinions haven't changed, but outside my private life, nothing I say or do makes any difference whatsoever. There's no interest at all in any kind of discussion, debate or analysis at the moment in this country. I've studied enough history to refrain from making comparisons to some earlier, mythical time when things were better, so I'll just say that right now, facts and interpretations of facts don't drive or even influence politics. The main driving forces are stories, and the people who shout their stories loudest are winning. Practically every forum is currently being totally swamped by racist hallucinations of islamization, unlimited immigration, no-go areas and so on, with the inevitable psychotic rage at the imaginary red-green feminist cabal supposedly driving these made-up disasters. Our politicians are attacking the very idea of human rights and working overtime to normalize brutal, dehumanizing racism. There are literal neo-Nazis marching in the streets. The media is either openly taking their side, or accepting their language and framing. At best, there's still this astonishingly naïve delusion that somehow the fascism, racism and sexism aren't real, the virtual terrorism and actual arson attacks on refugee centers aren't happening, and if we just listen sympathetically to these lunatics, it'll somehow turn out that it was all a misunderstanding. Perhaps most worryingly, the police have been enthusiastic proponents of the idea that racist terrorism is not a security issue, while the security service outright campaigns for the fascists. Meanwhile, the economic madness I've tried to describe continues, where our current government believes that in order to save the economy, it has become necessary to destroy it.

None of this is suspectible to facts, figures or arguments. On the contrary, it's mostly founded in the massive confidence and fanaticism of threatened privilege, where all "facts" that don't support the agenda are communist-feminist-multiculturalist lies. These people cannot be reasoned with. Believe me, I've tried. On the other hand, the kind of people who are dedicated to believing that racism and fascism aren't really happening also simply will not accept any information to the contrary. The constant parade of populist politicians making racist statements, delivering Hitler salutes, posing with neo-Nazis, openly encouraging violence and discrimination, can all be explained away. It becomes difficult to tell if this obtuse blindness is because of a fear of the consequences of accepting what's happening, or a secret sympathy for the racists. On both the rise of fascism and the destructive economic policies, so many people have such a blindly naïve faith in the state that they can't process the notion that bad things might be happening.

Influencing the way these massive narratives drive our society can't be done through any kind of appeal to discussion or debate. I'd like to think there's some way in which it's possible, but I don't have the skills or capabilities necessary for it. There's nothing I can do. So I can't see any point in continuing to expose myself to public abuse and vilification, when doing so achieves nothing. Even on a personal level, I've found trying to make sense of the world around me and to communicate with people to be mostly hurtful and futile.

I don't know why I ever imagined anything I thought or said should matter one bit to anyone. Privilege, probably. But I do think that I used to believe that it was possible to make some kind of meaningful contribution to public life; that there was some role in a democratic society for deliberation and debate. I don't really believe in that any more. Certainly I don't believe that it's possible for me to make any such contribution. I've also become thoroughly skeptical of privileged white cis men like myself participating in feminist activism, because what it keeps inevitably becoming is appropriation. The only meaningful thing I can attempt to do is to promote less privileged voices over my own, which is something I've tried to do and will continue to try to do. Other than that, it's time to recognize that I have nothing to give, and no-one cares.


As for my personal life, it's bitterly ironic that last year I could write that I was finally getting somewhere, when that somewhere has almost certainly turned into a dead end. Sure, I finished my master's degree this fall, and I'm actually reasonably happy with my thesis. However, the university cuts I mentioned will probably mean that that's the end of the road for my academic career. It's unlikely I'll be accepted for post-graduate study, and even if I was, it's almost certain it wouldn't lead to any kind of meaningful employment. The life of any kind of academic researcher-teacher-whatever was already at best precarious before the latest round of massive cuts. Now, the entire prospect seems completely hopeless. I'm still probably going to try, if only because I don't know what else to do. A major goal for next year is going to be to find some new direction for my life now that my previous plans have been effectively destroyed. I have very little hope that I can do this.

I'm still going through a process of recovering from my previously debilitating social anxiety and depression. One thing they don't tell you about social anxiety/phobia is how hard it is to build a new social life for yourself. You don't have the social skills and routines that other people can take for granted, or the safeguards. In my case, I went in a very short time from having pretty much no social life whatsoever to, briefly, a very active one. Only in retrospect have I realized how vulnerable that made me to being taken advantage of. Graduating into the current political and economic situation has been a profoundly depressing and alienating experience, and a deeply lonely one. The unfortunate side-effect of having a depressive episode and re-examining my social media use has been that since I'm no longer using social media to actively remind people that I exist, most of my acquaintances don't remember that I do. I'm deeply grateful to the ones who have, but this fall and winter have really driven home the point that I'm just going to have to learn to live with this crushing feeling of loneliness and being the unwanted odd person out. I've been that person all my life, but I still don't know how to deal with it. I've been lucky enough to meet some very special people who I would dearly like to be part of my life, but they've chosen otherwise, and all I can do is respect that. Maybe with time, this feeling of desolate loneliness will get easier to live with. At least I hope it will.

In general, a year ago I still believed that I have some kind of future to look forward to where things will be better, that I'll be able to leave my long twenties of alienation, loneliness and mental illness behind. I no longer believe that.


In practical terms, during the past year I've been trying to orient my blogging energies into things I like. Frankly, my Tolkien-reading project is almost certainly the only reason this blog still exists. I hope to continue it. Last summer, I was introduced to the Lord of the Rings living card game, which I also quite enjoy playing and, unfortunately for the two people who read this blog, blogging about. So as far as this blog is concerned, I'm pretty sure the future holds more Tolkien and card gaming. As trivial as it may seem, these have been things that have kept me going. Pretty much the only thing I can look forward to next year with any likelihood is The Grey Havens.

Other than that, I suppose that next year I have to try to figure out something to do with my life. The plans and motivations that kept me going through my master's thesis have pretty much collapsed and turned to ash. My various personal and social failures have driven home the fact that I'm a lot older and a lot stupider than I ever thought I was. I deeply wish I could come up with some way to make some kind of meaningful contribution to the world around me. Unfortunately, going into the year 2016, I don't see any way that's going to happen.


Leon said...

I like your blog. You seem intelligent, articulate, and importantly reasonable - I find a fanaticism or zealotry very distasteful even when I agree with the base cause. I found your posts on Finland interesting because in NA we get so little information about your country other than a sentence generalization or two. Now I don't know how accurate your viewpoint is but it's persuasive and well thought out - for that I commend you, there's a shortage of people trying to persuade through reason as opposed to shouting through fear or intimidation.

Your Tolkien stuff is fantastic, I hope you'll do the LOTR next, hell maybe the Silmarillion.

As for getting older and looking back and feeling foolish... I think that's a universal experience that everyone (who's capable of self-reflection) does but few will talk about. As a 46yr old, I can still find flaws or mistakes from only a few years ago. Stuff I did 20yrs ago is positively cringe worthy. So don't worry about that too much, I think everyone does it, we just don't say anything. Don't let it dominate your life and just try to improve the next time - you've got plenty of opportunities to get better in the future.


Michael Halila said...

Thanks for your comment! I really appreciate it, and I'm genuinely happy someone enjoys my writing. It's exactly the lack of and disdain for, if not even active hostility toward, reason that I find most distressing in Finland today. And yeah, as for feeling old and stupid, it's not like this is the first time I've done things that in retrospect are amazingly dumb, but this time it happened to coincide with some pretty severe emotional violence and some other unpleasantness. Life goes on, of course; that's the blessing and the curse of it.

And hell yes I'm doing the Lord of the Rings next! I can't wait to get started on it.

Thanks for the support. It does mean a lot to me.

Jussi said...


I for one will miss your political posts. It was really refreshing to read well thought and articulated opinions from someone not pushing any single political agenda.

I especially need to thank your earlier posts on the defense politics, they really opened my eyes to the need for better investment in our defense forces, when I earlier was prone to think that it is all needless.

But I completely understand your sentiment, it must be frustrating to write this stuff when there is no positive feedback or discussion going on around it.

Thanks for the posts so far, maybe you will still surprise us with new stuff if you find a direction for the rest of your life.