Sewing for Hapless Man-children

Another side effect of a social media detox: realizing how far I am from being a functioning adult.

Something I hadn’t considered before I started cutting myself off of social media: I don’t have anywhere to ask questions to higher-functioning adults. What can I use basil for? Where’s a good place to go camping? Any advice on renting an RV? How are you supposed to wash grease out of a pan when a soapy sponge just spreads it all over the place? Do I need a financial advisor? How do you keep vegetables from going bad?

For a while I’ve been wanting to learn how to sew, because at some point in the past couple of years, all the world’s clothing manufacturers got together and decided that making shirts that fit fat people was for chumps. I’m eager to become one of those white-bearded middle-aged men who makes his own Aloha shirts, and wears them with shorts and sandals all year round, everywhere except funerals.

I was lucky to have a friend I could DM for tips on what I needed from a sewing machine and what I should be looking for. After months of looking around online, I finally found a sewing machine that wasn’t sold out or being sold for $100 over MSRP because of COVID.

But my plans on sliding into 50 like an eccentric uncle have been stymied by the fact I can’t thread the damn thing. No matter how many times I’ve tried. I’ve watched multiple YouTube videos showing how to do it, 1Which raises the question: how the hell did I ever survive before YouTube?! and I still can’t figure it out. I need to be able to go to someone and just say “explain this to me like I’m an idiot.” Because that’s apparently the case.

In high school I took the closest thing my school offered to home economics, but it was all personal finance-type stuff, like “here’s how to sign a check” (useful at the time), or “never ever buy a new car” (absolutely not useful, since after my first POS left me stranded the fifteenth time I swore I’d never again buy a used car). Knowing my school in the 80s, I’m skeptical they would’ve ever let a boy take a sewing or cooking class, anyway.

Maybe that’s the kind of disruptive idea that will drive the next wave of internet start-ups: now that there are start-ups to keep you from having to drive yourself, cook your own food, buy your clothes, or leave the house to talk to someone, maybe we can have services that teach us how to be functional adults again.

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    Which raises the question: how the hell did I ever survive before YouTube?!

Portrait of the artist as a bald man

More than just narcissism, selfies keep me from repeating past mistakes.

Earlier this year, I shaved my head bald for the first time. It looked like this:

Not a big deal for most people, but it was a huge novelty for me. I kept it for a month and a half or so, and I have to say I really dug it. It was surprisingly nice to be able to wake up and not even do the barest minimum of hair maintenance that I put up with now.

I don’t think I could live as a baldman permanently, though — unless nature intervenes, which seems unlikely at this point. I’m just too lazy for the amount of work it’d take to keep it shiny, so I’ve got newfound respect for all the guys who put up with it. Also I know I’d never remember to put on sunscreen, which would be a problem if we ever reach a point where I can leave the house again.

I also briefly had a mohawk, which looked like this:

Fun for goofing off, but I could tell I wouldn’t be able to maintain the mohawk lifestyle.

One of the advantages of having an Instagram account was that I was slowly building a library of pictures of myself with almost every possible hair and beard configuration I could think of. Then, whenever I got in the mood to change things up, I could just look back through the records and be reminded that it didn’t actually look as good as it does in my memory.

Now, I feel like the guy in Memento, forced to re-learn over and over again that muttonchops just make me look super old, and as much as I’d like to, I just can’t pull off the biker mustache.

Proof:

Mundane Observations from a Recovering Social Media Addict

Remember when people used to write blogs?

Before Twitter and Facebook arrived to make billions of dollars by making people sad, fearful, and poorly informed, my internet oversharing platform of choice was the Straight Dope Message Boards. The Straight Dope was a newspaper column that gave genuine, researched (if not entirely respectful) answers to reader-submitted questions about any conceivable topic. The message boards started as a forum for more detailed conversation about the columns, but by the time I’d arrived, had already developed into a solid and surprisingly supportive community of pedantic nerds like myself.

My favorite section of the boards was called “Mundane Pointless Stuff I Must Share.” It was for pretty much any topic you wanted, with the explicit acknowledgement that it didn’t have to be worthy of conversation with hundreds or thousands of other people. It didn’t even need to be all that interesting. In 2020, that concept is known as “the entire internet,” but back in the early 2000s it was a novel concept for me. 1I never got into livejournal because I thought it was silly over-indulgence for arrested development adults behaving as if they were still emotional teens, which is hilarious to think of now because that’s me 10,000%.

Since I’m currently in the process of weening myself off of Facebook and Instagram, I’m trying to see if I can turn back the clock to the turn-of-the-century blogosphere. That means lowering my standards for what counts as “blog worthy,” and not feeling like I have to come up with a well-thought-out essay for every single topic. 2Believe it or not, I have at least been trying to come up with well-thought-out essays.

It’s weird, though. I wish I knew why; the only thing that Facebook and Twitter did to change the formula was add a social graph, lots of ads, and take ownership of the whole thing. I think something feels fundamentally different when you’re essentially putting pages from your personal journal online for other people to read, without being surrounded by a bunch of other people all doing the same thing. That tacit approval. The acknowledgement, “No, you don’t actually need to be sharing every random thought that enters your head, but it’s okay because everybody else is doing it, too.”

Maybe micro.blog is worth looking into again. I tried it a while back, and I quickly realized that the real strength of Twitter isn’t its format or its spontaneity, but its social graph. As much as I tell myself that it’s all about getting thoughts out of my head, and I don’t really care about followers, it does feel odd shouting out into a well-intentioned but sparsely-populated, echoing room.

If you use micro.blog and like it, let me know! It’s entirely possible I just need to follow more people.

Until then, I’ll start a category for nonessential thoughts and see if I can get back into the swing of embracing pointless communication.

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    I never got into livejournal because I thought it was silly over-indulgence for arrested development adults behaving as if they were still emotional teens, which is hilarious to think of now because that’s me 10,000%.
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    Believe it or not, I have at least been trying to come up with well-thought-out essays.