Instagram's Sad Compromise/Demise

Added on by Skyler Fike.

Instagram has officially sold its soul to the devil. The once community-centric, storytelling and picture-sharing app has become the marketplace for unintelligible ads, created by mindless and profiteering neanderthals who, by some holy miracle of God, figured out how to start a business and then sign up to sell THEIR souls to Instagram. The time is fast approaching where users like me—ones who once enjoyed signing on to engage creatively with others—are going to pack up their photos nicely and neatly into a little digital suitcase, say goodbye to friends and followers, and journey onward to better mediums (like @vsco, or hell, maybe back to print) for displaying work authentically and telling stories creatively. Instagram, I'm sorry, but with the ads you incessantly plague my feed with, your life expectancy is rapidly dwindling. Perhaps you don't care about me, and that's just fine, really, but at least my creative soul won't be the one compromised as a result of time wasted on terrible ads or the idiot admen who represent them.

Currently

Added on by Skyler Fike.

To those who believe everything they see on Instagram, or to those believe that what they see represents a constant and ideal reality, void of imperfection or blemish, here's a quick note on the reality of life from an overprivileged, middle-class white boy: Your life—wherever you are at this moment—is beautiful. It may not feel or appear beautiful; in fact, in its existence it may feel quite ugly and defeating. But regardless, your Currently is beautiful.

I moved into my house in Oak Cliff just over a month ago. In that time there have been endless fleas on the property, roaches in the walls, and just prior to taking this picture I was cleaning out the cabinets and discovered old rat traps and rat poop. Whether or not the rats still exist somewhere is unbeknownst to me. On top of that, work is slow, money is tight, I’m back to applying for jobs at architecture firms, and on a daily basis questioning my competence as a person and creator. And these aren’t even real problems. They’re short term, conditional dilemmas underlying a highly privileged First World existence.

But, what often results from these self-imposed, over-internalized, and American-manufactured trivialities is the temptation to believe that life is somehow more terrible than it’s ever been—or worse, that we are alone in all of it and will never come out of it. We take the simply-solvable and polarize it to a soul-sucking degree, and call it suffering. This is not by any means to deny the legitimacy of our trials—they are real after all—but amidst these trials we learn that gratitude, contentment, and hard work itself can unpry our brains from the clutches of depression and self-defeat. (Writing it out also helps.) And if we zoom out far enough we can see how tiny we are, how minuscule our Currently really is, and how with enough wisdom and patience we will surpass that which holds us down.

Sometimes the resolution to Currently lies not in the actual “fixing” of circumstance, but in the pause—the moment where you step back from yourself and recognize Currently for what it is: currently.

Source: instagram.com/skyfi

The Author Would Like to Acknowledge, 3

Added on by Skyler Fike.

The author would like to acknowledge "next steps", both generally and insofar as he is concerned. He was asked recently what his next steps were and he had no good answer for it. The author has truly never been good at answering such questions, or predicting the future, especially when there's a girl in the picture, but understands that considering next steps and predicting the future are indeed not the same thing, and can safely be separated. But the author struggles to separate the two since one seems to beget the other, and is more concerned with his next steps from the place he currently stands more so than what would likely come in the subsequent days. For example, on cold mornings, the author often wonders 'how many steps might it take to get from my bed to the john?' Or, 'how many movements will it take to successfully get out of my bed and begin to take those first steps?' These are much more predictable questions and easier to answer and manage than next steps concerning life plans. However, the author, while not keen on dodging good questions (and this is indeed a good question), would like to acknowledge that he currently has no money and has started to date someone, and above anything else mentioned in these acknowledgements would like to acknowledge that this is one of the, if not THE, most terrible combinations known to man, terrifying to his heart and checkbook, and raiding of his pantry because he can no longer afford to purchase groceries except for homemade dinner dates. I have yet to figure out if this girl requires a lot; she seems to really enjoy the simple things I do for her, even if whatever that is doesn't cost much money. But, again, the author has NO money. As far as next steps go, however, the author would like to figure out a more sustainable way of making money. This is separate from anything having to do with a girl; he just simply wants to survive and pay his rent. And while we're talking about money, the author would like to acknowledge Sir Vince of Wales, the King of Nexteps whose methods and practices of managing the relationship between money and woman is not only unprecedented, but worthy of individual acknowledgements. As a final note, the author would like to state his next steps regarding life and affairs, which are as follows: to not lose his house due to tardiness of rent payment, to find creative ways to make money and support a girlfriend and feed his dogs (these are unrelated tasks), and to prove to himself that he is indeed capable of working hard and trusting God.

The Author Would Like to Acknowledge, 2

Added on by Skyler Fike.

Read this before.

While we’re talking about coffee, the author would like to acknowledge two things: one, that he is drinking coffee as he writes this; and two, that the people who come into coffee shops every single day--you know the kind I’m talking about, the ones that make sure everyone there knows who they are, they talk to everyone, they always get “the usual” or some shit, they’re overly kind, and they say stuff like Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t actually own a cell phone, just shoot me an email and I’ll check it on Friday--annoy him immensely and think they should change up coffeeshops every now and then to give the semi-regulars a break from their Starbucksness (because, of course, this is what Starbucks employees do--hang out at work and talk over the paying customers). Further, the author would like to mention that he’s not in said coffee shop every single day and cannot, therefore, rightfully claim that these people are indeed there every day causing this unintended annoyance. Above all this, however, he would like to thank Will and Martin for making him the exact same cup of coffee every time he comes in. He really appreciates this and it makes standing the regulars much more bearable. Had the coffee resembled corporate break room jet fuel coffee, he would have never stepped foot in the coffee shop again. The author would also like to thank the cool glass tubes and metal handles for assisting Will and Martin in the coffee assembling process. Also brought to you by coffee is the author’s ability to think more clearly, often expediting the process of confession and/or hyperactivity. On the confessional front, the author would like to apologize for a hypothetical situation that he’s been conjuring up: since every user wishes to be on Instagram’s blessed Suggested User list, the author would like to acknowledge that he wants more than anything to have tons (and I mean TONS) of followers on said platform, and that he (sometimes) envies the fame of those with the “K” next to their follower count, but also gags, daily, at the illegitimacy of such fame and wishes to expel it far from his thinking. However, the author would like to confess that he’s been hoping for Instagram to “suggest” him as a user, but then reject the “suggestion” so as to be able to tell other people that Instagram did indeed suggest him, but that he rejected the motion to avoid the fame, thus elevating his pride to such a degree that it puts the result of fame, had he not rejected the suggestion, to epic shame. The author feels terrible and would like to let Instagram know that he would gladly accept this offer if they ever choose to suggest him, but the idea of a social media platform being so "suggestive" sort of grosses him out, and may still reject the offer and not tell anyone. This may be a win win. He would like to acknowledge and thank all that the suggestion implies, including, but not limited to:

  1. Ad opportunities (or, the ability to spread to propaganda to a wide audience that doesn’t want to hear it, for a price that would probably only help the author to afford more coffee or pay for delinquent taxes from 2014)

  2. People wanting to be around him and/or become friends with him

  3. People wanting to have their photo taken by him (probably for their own purposes and to gain more followers. This is as equally lacking in moral solidarity as A., and similar to D.)

  4. Companies wanting to utilize him for their own purposes (though, this is really more a subpoint to A. than anything)

  5. Other opportunities for monetary gain, generally speaking.

Though all these are fabulous and self-indulging, the author would like to thank all those friends and Instagram users with tons of followers who humbly approach the subject and are able to beautifully subvert the attentions and turn it to something positive, as well as tastefully advertise in a way that makes me want the thing you’re promoting. Your ability to breach this Psychological Great Wall in my brain is worth noting.

The author wants you to know that he's now done with his coffee.

Home, Part 1

Added on by Skyler Fike.

The following is a piece from a writing club that I take part in here at WELD. Each week we assign each other a prompt and require 300-500 written words on a topic. Often times these pieces turn out to be mere starts to longer projects or assignments; the goal, however, is to encourage consistency in the act of writing, whatever the outcome. 

This is an excerpt from a future, possibly longer piece on the idea of 'Home' and what it means to me. It could be part of a memoir or story. At this point, I have no idea idea what it will be, but I post, simply, to share. Enjoy.

Home

It took 26 years for me to call anything home, and for the longest time I hated it. I wanted nothing to do with it. The part of home where I lived until college reeked of conventionality and fancy cars and disappointments initially led on by insurmountable optimism, and the school district, of course, was one of the best in the northmost parts the city. Kids at 16 were handed the keys to daddy’s, or a new, shiny Mercedes, which usually served as the means of drop-off for whatever narcotics were being passed around at the time. Kids were also killing themselves, or faking to kill themselves to get attention, and then actually killing themselves.

This is not what I call home. But it was where I dwelled for the better part of my life. And it wasn’t until 26 that I realized home was indeed not comprised of the stench of perfection and perfectly curbed streets and stepford blonde housewives (sometimes brunette), and Chanel No. 7. Praise god that even in the midst of apparent vanity my parents were able to teach me what life wasn’t actually like despite the otherwise compelling evidence surrounding us.

The actual home within this vain paradise meant thick, crisp bacon on a Saturday morning, shared over jet fuel coffee with a couple close friends who stayed over the night before. Mornings like these only followed the fenced-in beauty of late night hot tub shenanigans, or in November those glorious four-hour fireside chats in the side yard, when it was cold enough. We preferred the fire over the hottub since the hottub sat directly beneath our parents’ bedroom and inevitably woke them up. I was always the one to hush the crowd, and brother always the one to tell me to stop worrying.

But calling even this home was a struggle. We moved houses when I was a senior in high school, a lateral move by my parents in a successful attempt to pay off a large amount of debt and get me through college (which I’m grateful for), but it meant moving from the place I thought would be the permanent dwelling. Displacement was never ideal, but sometimes necessary, and I understood this. My room in the first house was huge. Plenty of room for a desk, headboard and bed, and other activities. I had two whole windows overlooking the houses across the street which were perfect imitations of our own, only mirrored (Yes, Mr. Developer, we noticed.).

This room was the place that I wrote my first essay, or at lease the first thing I became remotely proud of. I wrote on a dark brown desk, stained with engraved bi-products of others handwritten work which bled through but didn’t pierce the paper between the pen and desk.