Achievement unlocked

Today is something of a special occasion for me. This post, the one you are reading right now, is ‘Arthur Wingsmith No. 20‘. It probably doesn’t seem like a big deal – and I suppose, in the scheme of things, it isn’t. Yet it is of no small significance to me personally, as I really thought I would have given up by now; having found, like so many other things, writing a blog is harder than it looks. But despite the difficulty of it (and for me it is difficult – especially because I seem to get ‘life-trolled’ quite often), I find that I want to keep going. Perhaps, it has become a compulsion at this point?Whether or not I am suffering from a new internet related illness is not the ‘point’ of today’s post. (I suppose, though, if I was going to write about it, it might be called ‘Compulsive Blogging Obsession’.) Rather, I just wanted to do something special to mark this milestone moment. But what?

Initially, I thought I could get some sort of ‘blogumentary’ made, and I did approach a ‘documentary blog-maker’ for this purpose. It would be great, I explained, he could interview some of the people who have appeared in the blog so far, and they would say nice things about me. Maybe Gary (just Gary, not Guru GaryGary the Guru, or The Gary) would consent to participate. After all, he was there at the beginning: he was pretty much the whole fourth post. What’s more, while the ‘blogumentary’ was being made, I could take a week off. Perhaps I could drink some boutique beer, and read some of those short stories I haven’t had a chance to look at yet.

While the ‘docu-blog-maker’ agreed that this was an excellent idea in principle, he felt it was a little too soon for such an undertaking. He pointed out, that even though twenty posts is decent, the blog itself is still very young: only a little over four-months old. Maybe I should consider getting a really nice cake instead. However, and because he found the idea intriguing, he suggested I come and see him again in a year if I was still CBO.

It was hard to disagree with the docu-blog-maker’s observations, so I went home to have a really hard ‘think’ about what sort of cake I would like. (Chocolate, naturally. Or perhaps coffee? Anything coffee is pretty ‘writerly’. Wait, what about chocoffee-cake?)

Having finally decided that I was going to order a chocoffee-strawnapple-gateau-sponge-cake with cherries, I turned my attention to instituting elements from @stixit2u78’s ‘webby-spready’ system. (After many apologies from me about that unfortunate furniture incident, and paying for an expensive dinner, he finally gave me the whole system – for a large fee.) And so it transpired that I noticed a message from Tumblr that read: Tumblr achievement unlocked.

I didn’t bother trying to figure out how Tumblr knew of my approaching Arthur Wingsmith No. 20 event. Probably it was all to do with some  rule-governed-Turing-machine cleverness, anyway. Those ‘machines’, they just know stuff; especially about how stupid you are, based on how grammatically challenged you appear in a comment thread (or in a blog format, for that matter). I did note, however, that Tumblr was only crediting me with a ‘ten-post achievement’, rather than the full nineteen, as it stood then.

“Odd,” I thought, “Why not the full nineteen?” Of course, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. In fact, getting credit for slightly over fifty-percent of the amount of work I’d done was pretty good, all things considered. I’ve had situations where I got no sort of recognition at all. But then, who hasn’t experienced that at some time or another? (It’s normal, right? I mean, this has happened to you too, yes?)

Well, wasn’t my face red? The achievement was for ten-Tumblr posts, not all of the AW ones. (Hahaha … actually, I am a bit embarrassed.) Then I began to wonder: what kind of achievement is that, anyway? Why did it have to be unlocked? Why is there no award certificate or medal associated with it. Can I, in fact, put it on my Linkedin profile as an award, or certification? (Because, I’ve have to tell you that the degrees I have listed have not done much for me. That is, not much employment-wise. Apparently, I acquired the wrong ones.) In other words: what is the nature of achievement, and how do we measure it?

“What is the nature of achievement, and how do we measure it?” A good question, so it seems to me. One I stated out loud, for dramatic effect (which is why I repeated it in quotes here, and included the dramtic emphases to make the question seem more ‘dramaly’.) But it is also a dangerous question. The kind of question that might lead one to dark and complicated places. Yes, dark and complicated places populated with disturbing revelations. These revelations probably have tentacles. I’m not sure I’m up for that this week, now that I come to think about it. I’m still recovering from the revelations that T-shirts are magical, cats rule the planet, and worlds can be created just by thinking about them.

Still, since I brought it up, I guess it is incumbent upon me to say something connected to achievement and measurement related questions. As I don’t want to do any real thinking for myself on this (for the reasons I outlined above), I’m going to employ a time honored technique; one used by all human beings whenever thinking things through is too much work. I’m going to quote some famous person who said something marginally related to the topic at hand.

The quote I am going to use, comes from Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882). Actually, it’s more of an ‘edited quote’ from a larger quote, but it should still be able to do most of the heavy lifting for me, thinking-wise. (I was tempted to write: “do all the heavy-thinkousity for me,” but decided against it. I mean, that’s just silly.) And so, as Emerson once famously said:

A man is known…by the company he keeps….

Huh? That’s not really about achievement or measurement at all, is it? It’s more about how we know the quality of a person. Sorry about that, I must have miss-remembered the actual quote. Never mind, we can just pretend that it is relevant, and call it a win.

Although, even pretending it relates to the topic, there’s still something a little ‘off’ about it. Ah! I know, it’s the language.

It’s a bit naughty, but I just can’t accept ‘man’ and ‘his’ as substitutes for “any human individual.” (However, I think in this case, Emerson was being gender specific; but let’s just pretend he wasn’t). I’m sorry about this, but I’m just going to have crack at modernizing the “quote” a little:

A woman is known…by the company she keeps….

That’s better, but it it still doesn’t seem quite right. Just let me have one last run at it:

A person is known…by the company they keep….

You know what? That’s close enough, I’m just going to leave it at that.

… Yet, whether that quote is about achievement, measurement, or quality, I’m not sure how I fell about being ‘known’ in that way. Probably, this has something to do with the fact that most of the ‘company’ I currently keep is either imaginary, or dispersed through social media. (As to this latter, that might be pretty much the same thing as ‘imaginary’, for all intents and purposes.) I’m not sure I would come up looking very good on scales of achievement or quality; not if I was going to be measured by the ‘company I keep’. I’m not sure that they would come up looking very good either, if I’m honest.

Bugger, I’m thinking – I promised myself no thinking this week! (Except for cake related thoughts, which boutique beer to drink, and which short story to read first.) Actually, perhaps you could help me out here? You know? As a favor?

If this was a normal sort of week for me, I’d conduct some kind of ‘thought-experiment’, or play a quick game of  “what if?” All things going well, one or both of these thinking related endeavors would help answer my questions. If I was lucky (or unlucky – it depends on what sort of complications manifest as a result), some new existential truth would be revealed to me. But, as I said, this is not a possibility for me this week. So, I was wondering – as a favor – could you do the thought-experiment or play the “what if” game for me?

No need to look so concerned, it’s not compulsory or anything. Just if you feel like it, and have the time. I’ll even set some basic premises/parameters to help get you started. Again, there is no obligation on your part, and if you do want to help me out here, you can always come up with your own starting point.

Here are the basic premises/parameters I would have used. I’m going to frame them as statements, since I’m not sure whether you prefer the thought-experiment or “what if” mode of thinking. (If it is in the mode of “what if,” just pretend that there are question marks at the end of each statement):

1) The struggle to exist, is the struggle to create and grow a social media profile.

2) The first act of this struggle is opening an account, filling in the relevant information, and choosing a really good profile photo and ‘cover’ picture. At this point you have been ‘born’.

3) To keep ‘existing’, you must attract people to connect with your profile – probably through some sort of button, although not necessarily so (perhaps fish might be the mechanism used to make these connections) – and you must ‘communicate’ with them. These ‘connections’ are called ‘Hexagonites’.

4) To develop and stay alive in this ‘existence’, you must ‘unlock achievements’. If you fail to unlock achievements, you cease to exist. If you lose too many ‘Hexagonites’, any achievement you have gained, is lost. The consequences of losing all unlocked achievements are, regrettably, fatal.

5) Central to the whole operation of this ‘existence’, is a non-fictional goat. The goat’s name is Augustus.

I think that should be enough to get started. If you do feel like you want to have a go at it, I’d be interested to know what you come up with. You could always ‘Twitter’ your results at me, or however that works. I wish you good luck.

Oh, I almost forgot: a happy “20th-Wingsmith” week to you all.

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