TW- Frank and bitterly sarcastic discussion of mental health, depression, and suicide.
I’m fucking tired, folks. Not in the “coulda used a couple more hours” kind of way, and not in the “I shouldn’t have stayed up til 2 AM playing video games” way either. I’m tired from something different entirely- doing the same shit over and over again and expecting different results. Apparently, it actually WASN’T Albert Einstein who said that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results” and honestly I super don’t care to spend my time researching who DID say it, I just know that it’s fucking true.
Why so glum, chum?
If I were to say “it’s been a fucking TOUGH couple years” it would be an absurd understatement, kind of like saying “cancer sucks” or “Tucker Carlson’s an asshole”. Obvious, but not even CLOSE to the extremity of the truth. We started The Ghost Generation as a blog, a way for us to speak to other people that felt lost like we did. We shared our experiences as thirty-something parents dealing with dysfunctional families, existential uncertainty, and parenting in the wastelands of suburbia. We also wrote about shit we loved- video game reviews, interviews with bands/artists we thought were rad, and things that might make life a little easier for frazzled parents. We did all this thinking that our people would find us, that maybe we weren’t the only ones who felt like life didn’t have to end just cause we weren’t twenty-fucking-five anymore.
We were wrong, apparently.
It turns out, not much of ANYONE found us, and it wasn’t for a lack of fucking trying. We slowly built our following on all the requisite platforms, we put out rad content (I hate the word, but for the sake of brevity), and we were proud of every single word we put down. I won’t sit here and front, it sucked. It sucked HARD. We thought we had something great here, and no matter how hard we hustled we just couldn’t get much of anyone to give a shit.
Sometimes you get dealt a shitty hand.
Yeah, and sometimes the whole fucking DECK is shit. So, realizing that the written word might not be the path to financial freedom we were looking for, we pivoted. We started our Etsy shop and we started making plugs for stretched lobes and necklaces, earrings, etc. I hate to toot my own horn here, but we’re also pretty fucking good at it. We wouldn’t have started it if we weren’t, and the other thing is that we LOVE it. Since then, we’ve added the bath & skincare line, I’ve switched from plugs to rings/keychains/etc., and we’re super proud of what we’ve turned this thing into.
So what’s the problem then? Glad you didn’t ask! The problem is, we just can’t seem to crack the internet. It doesn’t seem to matter WHAT we do, it’s just not happening. That’s kind of a problem when you’re trying to build a HOME BASED FUCKING BUSINESS where you sell almost exclusively on the internet, and it’s felt like trying to crawl up a hill, naked, with hands bound, covered in fire ants- all that to say, needlessly difficult. We’ve done all the things we’re supposed to do- learned SEO, how to use tags and keywords properly, posting on multiple platforms, giveaways, BLAH BLAH FUCKING BLAH. In fact, the more we’ve done shit the way “they” say you’re supposed to the LESS views/followers/whatevers we’ve gotten. It’s crickets, every day.
Yup. It sucks. Here’s the thing too, we fucking HATE social media. It’s true, and I don’t care who knows it. We’d come off ENTIRELY for almost six years before starting The Ghost Generation and those were six of the most mental health-friendly years of my fucking life. Now that I’m begrudgingly on it again, that metal health has taken the proverbial nose dive and I’ve even had to start therapy so I don’t end up a splattered chalk line on a sidewalk somewhere downtown cause I’ve flung myself off something tall and hopeless. This’ll come as a shock to no one, but it turns out that when you put your EVERYTHING into something and nobody gives a fuck it fucking hurts. Not in that “woe is me” kind of way, in my experience it’s been more like “I’m a failure at everything and everyone would be better off if I fucked off and died.”. I’ve spent a fucking unacceptable amount of time feeling like everything I do does nothing but move me closer to failure and taking up residence under a bridge for the rest of my days and while that might be a LITTLE extreme- the point is, I’ve given my everything to this shit and the lack of momentum has left me feeling fucking awful.
“You gotta wear all the hats”
“Nobody cares, work harder”
“Always be closing”
Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck all that noise. We’ve turned life into punishment at the expense of our own well-being. We walk around wearing our burnout like badges of honor when we’re fucking SCREAMING on the inside. We’re constantly bombarded by comparison to others, which I know is the death of happiness, and yet we keep coming back for more. If I see one more fucking person on Instagram posting about “I started my Etsy shop two months ago and I’m making six figures!” I’m gonna find the motherfucker and kick them in their shins…hard. Cause the thing is, we’re all on different timelines, we’re all doing different shit, and sometimes luck favors morons. As I’m starting to come out on the other side of this recent maelstrom of depression I’m realizing something, I’ve known it for a long time but it’s now cemented itself in stone for me- people only show you the shit they WANT you to see. It’s the “highlight reel” effect, everyone is out here curating their online presence to reflect constant victory, endless success, and the perfect way to manage meal prep for the perfect crossfit experience or whatever the fuck the thing of the day is. Everyone is feeding us the good shit, while completely obscuring the bad.
How are we all supposed to feel connected if we’re all just fucking lying to each other all day? How is a fledgling business supposed to have a sense of pride when everyone seems to be blowing past them in record time? How the fuck is the human brain supposed to process all this shit while trying to be a good parent, a present partner, and a business owner who didn’t make the biggest mistake of his anxiety-riddled life by quitting his job to build a business nobody cares about?
The human brain ISN’T supposed to process this shit, Aaron.
It’s true, but we’ve all rolled over and let Fuckerberg rub our bellies and forgotten how fucking toxic the whole enterprise is to our collective metal health. I sense myself starting to go on a social media rant here, so I’m gonna dial myself back to the point a little. The point is, we’ve been busting our ass to build something and it’s been REAL tough to get any traction. And, like I said earlier, the more we’ve tailored our collective shit to appease the algorithms the LESS we’ve gotten from it.
So, we’re fucking done. Cause here’s the deal- while Etsy, the internet, social media, etc, hasn’t been giving us anything but a strong desire to smoke ourselves into the stratosphere at the end of every day, the REAL FUCKING WORLD has proven to be the exact opposite. This year has been our first foray into local farmer’s/artisan markets and it’s been going pretty damn great. There are gnarly days, sure, but we’ve been out around the Atlanta area making our presence known and we’re had some really great days too. Vastly more than we’ve ever gotten from the internet, fucking EVER. Here’s a real-deal example- I haven’t posted on social media in just over a week. I’ve been dealing with all this mental health stuff, I had a pretty fantastic breakdown, and I just couldn’t bring myself to post on the “this is only gonna remind you of why you suck so bad” platforms for a little while. In true social media fashion, I don’t even think anyone fucking noticed the absence, which almost made it worse. Anywho, so I don’t post SHIT for a week and then this past Sunday we had one of our best days yet at the Smyrna Handmade Market. I didn’t even do my usual “We’re here and ready for a great day!” posts cause I wanted to see what would happen if I just let it go.
It had been a while since we just had a GOOD day like this past Sunday. Laura had a great day with the kiddos at the zoo, I had a great day at the market, and there was nothing to feel defeated about at the end of it. So, picture a light bulb over my head cause I can almost see one myself- maybe we don’t need all that shit. We’ll use it, fine, but if we’re using these tools the way you’re “supposed” to and it’s still not working MAYBE it’s just not our deal. Maybe people connect with us better in the flesh, and as long as we can manage to keep inching back towards “normal” again we’ll have plenty of opportunities to do so. We’ve never been much for doing what we’re “supposed” to do anyway, so why the fuck start now? So that’s that! I’m sick to death of jumping through the social media hoops, and I’m sick of NOBODY being honest about shit even more. I don’t care who you are, being a small business owner is NOT a constant loop of success and adoration- sometimes it’s harder than anything you’ve ever done, sometimes nobody cares, and sometimes shit just doesn’t go your way. Hell, sometimes ALL those things can happen in the span of a single morning.
And we won’t be dancing on fucking TikTok, either.
Nope, cause we’re not trained monkeys bred to dance on command while bragging about our sales numbers. Plenty of other makers/creators/etc. do it, but not us. We’re not gonna be chumps for the masses, vying for attention and showing off all the while not painting the whole picture. And, if we can grow The Ghost Generation our own way WITHOUT making stupid “look at me dancing and showing off my products!” I’ll be a happy fucking guy. Social media has made show dogs out of us ALL, and I know SO many of you agree with me but won’t talk about it for fear of losing followers/fans or whatever we’re calling it now. I’ll fall on that sword, cause I really don’t care anymore. I truly don’t, and you probably shouldn’t either. I’m interested in getting better at our craft every day, learning about our business more every day, and getting out to show it to the world where it counts. We’re gonna start writing more too, and about whatever the fuck we want. I miss reviewing rad Switch games and all that stuff, it’s easy to get a little lost when you’re trying to bring products to market but luckily we’re equipped with the ability to calibrate and get back to where we want to be. If that confuses people, so be it. We didn’t start this to be put into boxes, we started this to do things our OWN way.
If nobody else is gonna be honest on social media and share the WHOLE journey, fuck it- I will. I’m not sharing this for attention, I’m not sharing this for a pat on the back, I’m not sharing this shit for the sake of anything except this- if I can help even ONE person feel less alone in the struggle I will have done my job. If I share the tough days along with the good ones I’m showing other people in our position that it’s not always rainbows and bunnies but the struggle is 100% worth it if you believe in what you’re doing. If I can show just ONE FUCKING PERSON that not everyone out there is willing to be a party clown for likes and follows then maybe they’ll be empowered to follow THEIR own path too.
I’m not here to say we’re perfect. I’m not here to say “our way is the only way”. I’m not here to show you absolutes, I’m here to show you that there is a fuck of a lot more to this journey than anybody is showing you or telling you and it’s complete bullshit. So stick around, see what happens with us. Bare minimum, it’ll be fun to watch. Plus, you might get something out of it, if nothing more than just the comfort that comes from knowing you’re not the only one in the trenches. And for god’s sake- if you feel like we do, or have your own struggles you want to get off your chest- TALK TO US. Reach out in the comments, shoot us a message, whatever you want- just don’t suffer in silence alone. Life is short, do rad shit, and do it with some fucking integrity. If our tagline “BE YOURSELF DEFIANTLY” means anything at all we need to live it, and that means carving our own path no matter what. Wanna feel better about YOUR journey? Start there. Do you, no matter who tells you to follow the herd, and we’ll be here cheering you on.