26.11.2023 | Lots & Lots of Thoughts

Intro | I had planned to write this post last night, while watching the final broadcast of “Wetten Dass”, a German TV show which had been blockbuster in the 80s and 90s. But only 10 minutes in I was so annoyed by the host already. I spent about 20 minutes checking out all the other TV stations. When I got back to the TV show I only heard the host say a few more words and was annoyed again and turned the TV off.

The novel I had been reading for the last few days featured a photographer and it made me want to grab my camera and go out and take some photos myself. I had planned to do that at the Christmas market in the neighbouring town after running some errands. But once I had parked my car it started to rain heavily so all plans of Christmas market and photography went out the window. Oh well.

Instead here is a photo from the flowers I took home from a family event a week ago.

Closeup shot of two roses, magenta on the right, rose on the right
Leftover flower decoration from celebration last Sunday

I moved the vase just for that photo to avoid showing the haphazard junk on my kitchen table. Then I hated myself a little for giving into the “faking perfect photos for my online presence” impulse. I did not reshoot the photo with the vase in it’s original place though.

Social Media | About a week ago I took the huge for me step to delete most social media apps from my phone. I set up a browser I don’t usually use on both my desktop computer and my laptop with bookmarks to BlueSky, Mastodon, Twitter and Instagram and so far managed to check them once or twice a day this way only. I also set up a browser addon to limit the time I use to do this. I still got Instagram on my phone and check it there as well, because it’s more comfortable than on the browser. So far I don’t feel like I really miss anything. I should have done that a long time ago.

Screenshot of a Chrome browser window with bookmarks to Twitter, Mastodon, BlueSky and Instagram and also a popup window of the Stayfree addon
My social media browser setup (screenshot from earlier today)

I’m not sure how much I will actually continue to use BlueSky. It looks like Twitter and in a way feels like vintage Twitter, but in so many ways it also doesn’t, because only an handful of people I followed on Twitter moved over there. Some other accounts – news, media, artists – etc. have moved there by now, but not to that extent that I’d feel compelled to keep up with their feed in ways I had been on Twitter. Mastodon might be the place of the text-based services I frequent most, because quite a few of the people I “knew” on Twitter moved there as well as news services and science accounts and such. Twitter itself still is the place where I follow my favourite artists who are still using it to broadcast news and engage with fandom and I don’t want to give up on that yet.

I think the last push I needed to step a bit further away from it all was to see the way quite a few social media accounts deal with / comment on the Israel – Hamas war. A bit more on that further down.

In a similar vain I also deactivated my TikTok account. I can’t bring myself to delete it for fear of someone else using “my” username and steal my identity. I know chances are slim for that ever happening, because I’m a nobody in the social media world, but I still rather want to be careful. Leaving TikTok was caused two incidents more or less: The “TikTok user celebrating a BinLaden letter from over 20 years ago”, which I know was exaggerated by the mainstream media. But I realized I didn’t want to be part of a network that made something like this possible in the first place. The other incident was reading once again about how the company behind TikTok (aka the Chinese government) uses the app and all the data collected for their own gain and how they use it to spy on journalists and so much more. Again… not something I want to be part of. I admit I bookmarked about a dozen accounts (artists, books, running, zen doodling) in my feedreader to check in on their content in a browser (not logged in to TikTok) occasionally.

“I Don’t Know, I Changed My Mind” | In the past few days I once again in my mind had been drafting a paragraph about my thoughts and emotions about the Israel – Hamas war. Like I had been doing so many times in the past weeks. I shied away from sharing any of my thoughts before, because I’m afraid some of them might alienate some of the people who might / will read this here. I’d also like to stress that all of the thoughts laid out below are incomplete and volatile, because I don’t and can’t know everything I need to know to come to a conclusive opinion. Maybe there can’t be conclusive opinions for this situation anyway and we have to live with that.

On social media I see so many people take a distinct “pro / free Palestine” stance. For most of my life I’ve been taking that stance as well with all the limited knowledge about this conflict that I had. I admit I never really bothered to learn more about how and why the situation turned into the horrible armed conflict / terror / war it has been for so long now. It’s so easy to stand with the oppressed (the Palestinians living in Gaza and the West-Bank) and in fact it should be every human’s impulse to do so. My heart breaks for all the lives lost and the horrors those people had / have to endure. I also doubt that Israel will reach their objective to destroy Hamas in the long run with this. They might for now and the next few years, but the trauma this war impose on the young Palestinians and the hardship these people probably will have to live in for the next decade(s) will lead to another generation of people who want to fight / destroy Israel.

But – and yes there is a but – I personally don’t see any other way Israel could have reacted to this horrid terrorist attack from Hamas. Israel authorities haven’t released to the public any of the footage the terrorists filmed of their own atrocities and which the Israelis have gathered through their own military intelligence or from the dark web or wherever. But from what I’ve read and heard from people who were able to see some of it, it must have been devastating and horrific. How can anyone expect a nation where citiziens have been so brutally attacked and kidnapped to not fight back? I have no idea if it is possible to destroy the terrorist command centres / weapon depots / rocket launchers which Hamas seem to have set up amidst civilian settlements, in a way that cost less civilian lives. It seems obvious to me that Hamas does not care about the civilian lives in Gaza, because if they did, they would not use the human lives as shields the way they do. They would not have launched an attack as they did on October 7th, well aware that Israel would retaliate and that the civilians in Gaza would suffer for it.

In October 2023 Hamas have launched 8.000 rockets towards Israel. There has been limited damage or almost no loss of lives, because the Iron Dome is working for now. I just state this as a reminder that Israel is under constant attack from Hamas. How do we expect a nation to react to that? Especially towards an enemy that isn’t really a proper government / nation, but which in a way also holds a nation (the people in Gaza) hostage as well?

To make it all the more complicated…

  • of course I still condemn the way Israel is acting in the West-Bank with all the illegal settlements.
  • I have no idea how many of the Palestinians in Israels prisons are imprisoned unlawfully (without a trial, on dubious charges). I’m afraid there might be a lot, without actually knowing any numbers. If any of them are released now, I’m happy for them and their families.
  • I hate and fear the way the Israeli government moved so far to the right in the past few years.
  • I wish Germany and European countries would take a clearer stance on Iran and stop any kind of business deals with them, because in the long run that money will end up financing Hamas or any other terrorist group fighting to obliterate any Jewish life in the Levant or anywhere else.
  • I am disappointed, but not surprised, that according to what I’ve read so far, neither of the other Islamic nations in the region are willing to commit to financial or other help to rebuild Gaza / a Palastinan state once this war will be over.

Summary of this long and fragmentary rambling: it’s complex and complicated and I DON’T KNOW! I do know though, that there are more than one side to all of this; more than two sides in fact and I wish we’d all be a bit more aware of that.

Some time ago I saw tweets from people I vaguely know in support of Susan Sarandon, who had been dropped by her agency (?) for supposedly anti-semitic things she said at a demonstration in New York. I say supposedly, because I haven’t watched the speech and only read the snippets reported in a few articles. My first impulse was to go through these people’s feed to see if since October 7th they also tweeted in solidarity of the Jewish women violently raped, mutilated and killed by Hamas. I stopped myself quickly, because what would be the point? I wouldn’t contact these people on Twitter about it. Would I have felt vindicated if they hadn’t shown that solidarity? Would I have felt like the better person? What would I have done if they had shown the same solidarity? Either way nothing would have changed anything about the situation in Israel / Gaza.

That was the moment though, when I realized that I needed to take a step back from social media for my own peace of mind. Hence the way I’m handling it at the moment.

State of Mind | It’s hard to switch to some other topic now, but I didn’t want to end this post with thoughts on this horrific conflict. I’m well aware that it’s a privilege that I don’t have to constantly think about it. These past few days I feel like I’m slowly getting out of this mental slump I found myself in for the past few weeks. There were a few more (small) wins at work, or at least what I would consider wins: holding ground against my supervisor who wants to move a project of mine in a slightly different direction than I do. Getting things more organized or at least getting there.

I sense a similar vibe in my personal life at the moment. Getting a bit more organized. Working on establishing new routines like cooking a bit more elaborated dishes than just pasta with tomatosauce.

Photo of white rice and a tofu, pepper, tomato dish on a grey plate
Spicy tomato, pepper, tofu dish

Getting enough sleep and rest. Cutting down on social media. I’m still a work in progress; but I do see progress and that’s a marvellous thing.

Books | I signed up for a German climate action challenge app and one of the actions you get “credit” for is using a library (which I don’t) or reselling books. I try to resell books I know for sure I won’t ever read again and on occasion I buy used books from the same or another service. In the explanation for this action it states that on average we read 5 books a year. I’ve read 77 books in 2023 so far. For a moment I thought: Am I abnormal? As I’m wont to do when I clearly deviate from the norm. And in a way I obviously am, because 77 to 5. I don’t spend much time watching / binging TV shows these days though, which clears up a lot of time to read. I also probably spend a bit too much time reading as a means of procrastination and I’m working on that. I still can’t imagine only reading 5 books a year.

Book shelves with 2 almost empty shelves in the right bottom corner of the picture
Making space for more books

I lack impulse control when it comes to book purchases and I might want to look into why that is. But still… the used book online store had a discount this week and my regular online bookshop of course was doing Black Friday discounts, so it seemed reasonable (to me anyway) to go on a book buying spree this morning. To make space for all of those new books I finally re-arranged my shelves and put some of the German non-fiction on a different shelf in my living room.

Asking Myself “Why?” | I don’t remember if I heard it from a podcast about mental health or on one of the Calm mediation sessions this week, but I thought it was an interesting exercise: To help with turning out of autopilot mode, ask yourself honestly why you are doing what you are doing! Which can be eye-opening in some regard. I might do a recap of my day with a few Why questions after I’ve posted this.

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