Remember how much fun it was to harmlessly TP your friends’ houses? How silly and goofy it was to ding-dong ditch someone? Just to do silly, childish, ultimately harmless expressions of being a kid who’s fooling around? Or how about playing hide and seek? Remember how fun that was?
Thanks to the Republican fascists who have gerrymandered and suppressed their way into minority rule In 21st century America, any of those things will now likely get you killed by a paranoid gun nut who won’t suffer any consequences. And when it’s a white man who murders a BIPOC child, his state’s Republican governor will pardon any consequences that somehow slip past the barriers to justice they’ve built.
Pick a side. There is no middle.
You’re with the fascists and terrorists, or you are with the rest of us. There is no middle. There is no “both sides”. One side wants as much death and terror on the streets as possible. The other side wants all of us to have healthcare and a home.
Pick a side. There is no middle.
You are with us, or you are with the domestic terrorists. There is no middle.
And to be clear: if you are with the domestic terrorists, you’re not welcome on my page or in my life. It’s not dIfFeREnT OpInIoNs. It’s literally life and death. There is no middle.
Maybe, thirty, forty, fifty years ago, there was some redemptive quality in the GOP. (Like, at the very LEAST there were Republicans who wouldn’t support a coup, or flood our streets with weapons of mass murder, for instance). Maybe it’s real hard to consider voting against the party you’ve always supported. I get that. Thing is, that party doesn’t exist now. That party has been replaced with violent, christian nationalist, white supremacist, fascists. And they are ALL in thrall to Tr*mp and Marjoriefuckyfuckfuck.
You can try to tell yourself that you don’t vote for their policies, that your candidate isn’t extreme. But when you vote for ANY Republican, you’re voting for those policies, because Republicans do as they are told by their fascist supreme leader, Donald Tru&p. They fall in line with the extremists. So if you aren’t an extremist, what do you do? If you want the endless slaughter to end, what do you do?
You pick a side. You’re with America, or you’re with the MAGA movement.
This morning, I gave a keynote at the Southern Kentucky Book Festival. Here are my prepared remarks.
Good morning. My name is Wil Wheaton. I am the New York Times bestselling author of Still Just A Geek. My narration of Ready Player One debuted at number one on the same list. I created, produced, and hosted the series Tabletop on Geek & Sundry, and I currently host The Ready Room, your online hub for all things Star Trek Universe.
I am so proud and grateful for all of that. I have an amazing life doing what I love. I’ve been married for 24 years to my best friend, Anne. We have two amazing kids, a pretty great dog, and a cat who allows us to believe we are in charge. I get to travel all over, talking to audiences like this, about things that are important to me.
I’m going to say it again: I have a fantastic life.
To get here, I had to survive what most of you probably know me from: my childhood acting career. In 1985, when I was 12, I starred in Rob Reiner’s Stand By Me, which has gone on to become a generational classic. At 14, I was cast as Wesley Crusher, in Star Trek: The Next Generation. 35 years later, I am introduced at science fiction conventions as an elder in the community, representing Legacy Star Trek.
I was really good at it, but I never wanted to be an actor. My mom forced me to do it, and gaslighted me about that truth until I finally had no choice but to end contact with both of my parents, so I could work on healing the CPTSD I have carried for as long as I can remember.
Today, I am a full-time writer and part-time host. I’m as happy and fulfilled as I have ever been, and for the first time in my life, I am doing what I want to do, what is important to me. Today, I want to talk to you about how I got here from there, and the librarian who made it all possible.
About ten years ago, I did a YouTube thing for a friend of mine. I showed up at a space in Hollywood, and did some silly gaming stuff with them to help get their channel off the ground. They’d done the same for me with Tabletop, and I was happy to return the favor. As I’ve said many times, nobody gets their foot in the door without some help, no matter how hard they try to rewrite their origin story.
There were a TON of YouTubers there, most of whom I didn’t recognize because I’m not in the demo. Most were twentysomethings, but there were a couple of teens, and maybe half a dozen younger kids who seemed to be having a pretty good time playing with toys and games. About halfway through the day, a mom who appeared to be around 27 or so brought her son over for a picture with me. He looked to be about 7. You know, the age I was when my dogshit parents ended my childhood and put me to work.
So this mom tells me that she’s super excited to “get his channel going” and before I even knew what was happening, I heard this come out of my mouth: “He wants a channel? Or you want a channel? He only gets one chance to be a kid, and no kid should have to work at all, or perform if they don’t want to.” Then I looked at the kid, and I saw a VERY familiar face from about … 1979. It’s in the eyes and the way the shoulders slump. I looked back at the mom. “Don’t take his childhood away from him.” Then: “He only gets one childhood.”
She looked shocked. This was clearly not something she had ever thought about, and certainly didn’t expect to think about at this thing. I felt like she was seeing her child as a child for maybe the first time? I don’t know. She was clearly uncomfortable, like nobody had ever spoken up on behalf of her child before.
“He loves it! He’s always having fun!” She said, with the same fake enthusiasm and terrible lying I knew from my mother. I glanced at the kid and knew that was not true.
What I wanted to say to her was, “I hope this is a total failure for you. I hope you get zero views, get your own job, and support your kid being a kid so he grows up with a mom.” But instead, I looked at this sweet little boy and said, “You deserve to be a kid.” Then I walked away before I caused a scene. I did not participate in his exploitation by posing for a photo that he didn’t care about, that would be used by his mother for some kind of promotion.
I think about that kid from time to time. He’s probably right around 18 or so, now, and I hope that his childhood wasn’t anything like mine. I hope he’s happy and living his best life. I hope his mom grew up and chose to be his mom, not his pimp, and that they have a loving and supportive family relationship.
“Claire, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy, has never known a life that doesn’t include a camera being pointed in her direction. The first time she went viral, she was a toddler. When the family’s channel started to rake in the views, Claire says both her parents left their jobs because the revenue from the YouTube channel was enough to support the family and to land them a nicer house and new car. “That’s not fair that I have to support everyone,” she said. “I try not to be resentful but I kind of [am].” Once, she told her dad she didn’t want to do YouTube videos anymore and he told her they would have to move out of their house and her parents would have to go back to work, leaving no money for “nice things.”
“When the family is together, the YouTube channel is what they talk about. Claire says her father has told her he may be her father, but he’s also her boss. “It’s a lot of pressure,” she said. When Claire turns 18 and can move out on her own, she’s considering going no-contact with her parents. Once she doesn’t live with them anymore, she plans to speak out publicly about being the star of a YouTube channel. She’ll even use her real name. Claire wants people to know how her childhood was overshadowed by social media stardom that she didn’t choose. And she wants her parents to know: “nothing they do now is going to take back the years of work I had to put in.”
Bolding is mine. “Also her boss”? Fuck you, Claire’s dad. Fuck you eleven different ways, you piece of shit.
Children deserve to be children. Children are not the property of their parents who can use and exploit them for their own gain. They are CHILDREN and they will spend the rest of their lives hurting because you stole that from them. Ask me how I know.
I see you, Claire, and I am so sorry for what they took from you. You did not deserve that, and you are enough. When you are of age, if you choose to hold them accountable, I have your back.
Speaking as someone who lives with mental illness, who struggled and suffered for decades with undiagnosed and unacknowledged CPTSD, with a side of Depression and Generalized Anxiety, I know how difficult and scary a mental health crisis can be. I also know how vicious and ruthless and cruel the political world is.
His courage saved lives. There are people today and in the coming days and weeks who are finally willing to seek mental health care for themselves, because he spoke openly and without shame about his own mental health. Depression and mental illness affects EVERYONE, and when people who have enormous public profiles speak about their experiences, it chips away at the stigma that has claimed too many lives.
I am not a United States Senator, but I know this is absolutely true, because people have told me that my public journey to care for my mental health and heal my trauma gave them what they needed to make the appointment and begin their own journey.
My heart is with Senator Fetterman and his family. I wish them all the best. I know how tough this is. How scary it can be. How Depression will see the struggle and just pour lie after lie after lie over you, trying its best to make you believe you deserve or are responsible for it.
All of that is bullshit. Depression lies.
I want to remind anyone who is struggling with their mental health, who is just *so tired* of feeling all the things Depression and its buddies try to drown us with that IT IS OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY. It’s not shameful or weak to ask for help. It’s courageous, and you deserve to be helped by people who have dedicated their lives to helping us get better.
If you or someone you know is struggling, please know that help is available when you’re ready. If you are in the United States, you can dial 988 from any phone to speak with a counselor who is ready for you.
It’s another one of those round up posts, like in the Before Times! Also, my silly choice to do that outrageous 90s theme (I bet you are all going to miss the dancing baby) has served its purpose, and now we are back to something a bit more readable.
So the phrase “you have too much time on your hands” came across my event horizon, as a response to a silly thing I did to amuse myself. I’ve heard this for my entire life, and every few years, I write a post like this about it. This is a slightly edited version of my response.
I doubt very much you mean to be hurtful when you say this. It’s just a silly thing you say, like “tell us how you really feel”. It doesn’t mean anything, it’s just a little joke.
About that. This is one of the most insulting, degrading, things a creative person can hear. We have all kinds of fun making something, and we put it into the world, and “you have too much time on your hands” devalues our creative experience. It’s another way of saying “don’t you have anything better to do?” Actually, dad, I don’t. This is exactly what I wanted to do with my time and energy.
I had exactly the right amount of time to make whatever the thing is. I choose to invest my time in doing something amusing, or silly, or whatever. “You have too much time” implies that this was a waste of the time I have, time that should have been spent doing something else, rather than the thing I chose to make, because it made me feel good to do that.
I am so confident that most people who say this don’t mean to be hurtful, and if you’re one of them, I hope you’ll hear me, as a creative person who has been dismissed like that his whole life, when I tell you how hurtful and insulting these words are. Don’t take my word for it, listen to all the other creative people who will reply to this, if they choose to share their experiences.
I’m not calling you out. I’m not putting you on blast, and I’ll ban anyone who brigades or attacks you. I’m just taking this moment to share this for you and anyone else who doesn’t want to be hurtful in the future. A teaching moment.
We don’t have too much time. In fact, nearly every creative person you ever talk to will tell you that we don’t have enough time. Please don’t dismiss us or the stuff we make.
Thanks for listening 🙂
NB: Facebook is bad for civilization. There is a future coming where someone researches and produces data which will show how absolutely destructive the whole damn thing is. There is a future where social media as it exists today is looked at the way my generation looks at DDT. We cannot believe it was ever a Thing, and the people who were poisoning us knew it all along. Facebook and Twitchan are a catastrophe for democracy and marginalized people. I can’t wait for the day to arrive when all of social media is regulated like tobacco and alcohol, and gets broken up into some parts that are less predatory and dangerous.
I just want to amplify my dear friend who is not here for anyone’s bullshit:
Okay. Let’s step out of that place and into something more fun!
I’ve wanted to round up some of the TV I’ve been watching:
Holy shit The Last Of Us is perfect. Flawless. Worth the entire subscription.
Netflix’s 1899 went from “interesting, compelling” to “steampunk LOST” so fast I gave up halfway through. The era of “weird for the sake of being weird, style over substance, vague hints of story instead of real character development, and we’ll sort of loosely wrap it up eventually” cannot end fast enough. Honestly, it should have died with Charlie. RIP Charlie.
Conversely, I had to force myself to not binge Wednesday, Brand New Cherry Flavor, The English, The Recruit, and Sandman. Highly recommend all of them.
The Justice Department has been scrutinizing a controversial artificial intelligence tool used by a Pittsburgh-area child protective services agency following concerns that it could result in discrimination against families with disabilities, The Associated Press has learned.
The interest from federal civil rights attorneys comes after an AP investigation revealed potential bias and transparency issues about the opaque algorithm that is designed to assess a family’s risk level when they are reported for child welfare concerns in Allegheny County.
Algorithms use pools of information to turn data points into predictions, whether that’s for online shopping, identifying crime hot spots or hiring workers. Many child welfare agencies in the U.S. are considering adopting such tools as part of their work with children and families.
Though there’s been widespread debate over the moral consequences of using artificial intelligence in child protective services, the Justice Department’s interest in the pioneering Allegheny algorithm marks a significant turn toward possible legal implications.
Supporters see algorithms as a promising way to make a strained child protective services system both more thorough and efficient, saying child welfare officials should use all tools at their disposal to make sure children aren’t maltreated. But critics worry that including data points collected largely from people who are poor can automate discrimination against families based on race, income, disabilities or other external characteristics.
(bolding is mine)
This was timely, as I just watched this short from Aperture about Algorithms a couple days ago.
tl;dr: algorithms are inherently racist, classist, and not at all neutral because the data used to train them is largely drawn from a system that has elevated the opportunities and privileges of CIS white men. It’s appalling.
Let’s stay at YouTube for a minute, because I said this was going to be fun.
It’s going to be a movie? I just saw that when I looked for a link to the publisher’s page. Hmm. I hope they do it justice. I hear they missed the mark with Tales from the Loop, but I haven’t watched it yet so take that with a grain of highly radioactive 236 U.
Also, I noticed a Still Just A Geek coffee mug in the background of one of Hank Green’s videos and I’m not gonna lie: I squeed with extreme delight.
One last YouTube mention. I can’t get enough of CGPGrey. I don’t know anything about them, except that their brain is amazing.
This video is about choosing a theme for yourself, like “my theme for this month is reading.” or “my theme for this month is mindfulness.” The idea is to help us build on little successes that fit into a broad theme, rather than setting a single goal and feeling like a failure if we don’t complete it to our liking.
My theme since I turned 50 has been self care and gratitude. I’m spending all kinds of time working on healing my cptsd and trauma, and I’m showing up for myself every day to support that. I’m making a choice to work on specific things in therapy (EMDR has changed my life), and then do the hard work in between sessions to build on the insights I’ve gotten from my therapist.
I felt this fundamental shift beneath my feet last week. This HUGE thing changed in me. It’s so big, I can’t see all of it, you know? Like, I can just see this small part of it that I let go of, and until I get farther away from it, I won’t know what all of it is. I feel so good, so unburdened, that I have spent substantial time being suspicious of it. I legit wondered if I was manic, but after talking with my therapist, I’m pretty sure what I’m feeling is the lack of generalized anxiety that has defined my life for so long I didn’t realize it was there. “This is water,” as they say.
If you only take one thing away from this post: work on your shit. It’s worth it. YOU are worth it. And I’m going to tell you something that’s going to be upsetting: all your friends know you are lying to yourself, and to them, about your mental health. We can’t do anything to support and help you until you choose to be honest and do that incredibly hard work that is so terrifying.
In the land of music, I can’t believe how much I like Miley Cyrus’ new song, Flowers. I love her smoky voice and “fuck you I’m fabulous” attitude.
I’ve been listening to Alkaline Trio, Taking Back Sunday, Get Up Kids, Ataris, and all that fabulous early 2000s stuff we all associate with Warped Tour. Yes, I made a playlist at Spotify.
Speaking of, I had no idea that Spotify used so much shitty compression, until my son pointed it out to me with a side by side comparison to Apple Music. The difference between the two is astounding. Real quick: I hate Apple. Their UI is the worst. Their design is stupid and non-intuitive. Oh, how I hate iTunes. And Apple’s refusal to use open standards in messaging can get fucked.
But Apple Music is remarkable (The Linux client, cider, is amazing). The lossless sound is so much better than the over compressed shit Spotify squirts into my ears, and I had no idea until I put them side by side. Spotify is like putting a wet paper sack over your speakers, by comparison. Once you hear the difference, it’s real hard to go back.
Too bad Spotify didn’t invest in sound quality like they did in centering and spotlighting a conspiracy theorist. This is the year I let my membership expire.
Okay, last thing: I searched high and low for a really solid RSS reader that wasn’t full of crap. I eventually settled on Fluent Reader. You can grab the Appimage here, if you’re a Linux user like me.
Oh look the morning is behind me and now I’m late for work. Which will happen in a virtual desktop two clicks over, where I’m writing a brand new thing.