Yearly Archives: 2018

Facebook & The Winter of Our Discontent

We’ve been betrayed. Zuckerberg and the rat bastards at Cambridge Analytica have done had their way with us.

Listen on Twitter and it sounds like everyone’s freaking out. Rightly so, in some regards. You’d think there was a mass exodus from the social network, but upon monitoring my followers and friends, it doesn’t seem like anyone has walked away from it just yet. The numbers are the same today as they were last weekend, before the bombshell detonated.

I know I’ve tightened my settings up, deleted all the apps that had access to me.

But, beyond that, not much.

Surprised? Really?

I’ve been hip to Cambridge Analytica for over a year. I’ve known that Facebook quizzes were datamining for at least two.

So, I’m not shocked. I’m disappointed that Facebook is so complicit in the situation. It disgusts me that Facebook has had such a hand in manipulating the election. My hint of betrayal began as far back as when Zuckerberg got lambasted by the GOP for what they felt was over-liberalizing the site, and he bent over backward to calm them down. It was around then that content got WEIRD on the social network and shit went sideways. Betrayal began then.

The out-of-control indignation shouted by some people, though, is beyond the pale.

Really? You had no clue you were the product? You didn’t know Big Brother was watching you to see how they could manipulate you? No clue? None?

Seems to me blaming others for such naivete is a bit rich.

The Forever of the Internets

Now, me, I walked out of the wastelands recently to resurrect this blog. The “why” on that is all over the place – so many reasons, so many motivations.

But part of why I stopped writing here was largely to do with some of what’s going on now – too much information about me out there. Too much history, too much background, too much access. I got a little “that’s not for you” about my life and pulled the curtains shut in at least one area.

It was futile though. Let’s not pretend. The stuff’s still out there. Even if I deleted the blog, took a flamethrower to the site, you could claw back through it all on the Wayback Machine, or the Internet Archive, as the normies call it.

Google is forever, man. Don’t kid yourself.

We like to think it’s all so impermanent on Facebook and Twitter. The marketing nerds will tell you the average tweet has a shelf-life of 12 minutes and the average Facebook update something like 23 hours. But, really?

It creeps me out sometimes that people will be combing through my content for days after the fact, and suddenly some follower makes a note about a six-day old tweet, where, for me, it was a throwaway comment in a moment in time.

Awesome illustration by Davide Bonazzi, from

It Just Seems Fleeting

And that’s how the social networks get us. We think it’s unimportant or temporary, a time-waster or distraction at best.

Oh, look, a quiz about what character you are on Downton Abbey. Great, do that. Really?

I used to routinely comment on these and say, “Well, you know that’s a datamining operation, right? They just want access to your profile?”

Invariably, I’d get “Yeah, I know, but it’s only Facebook.”

Well, “only Facebook” allowed information to become weaponized and then used against us in a way that has made society more divisive now than arguably any time since the Vietnam War, or even the American Civil War.

Storytime: The Blog Before This Blog

Part of why I brought this blog back from the dead was because I’ve had kind of a reckoning of identity here in Greece. It’s one of those times where I’m in the middle still, so I can’t really see around me yet, but… things are changing in me, in my mind, in who I am. And while that’s happening, I’m also taking ownership of who I’ve been and from whence I’ve come.

So, as part of that, about 8-10 days ago, I finally undertook the task of getting my first blog – it’s this shitty little Blogspot blog I called The Last Ditch – archived because I lost access to it years ago and Google, who own Blogspot, are completely useless. That’s how I came to pay some dude on Fiverr $20 to archive the whole site.

I’m thinking, “hey, in two or three days, I can finally stop sweating about this site crashing and me losing a few years of writing.”

But nerd writes me back. “Okay, wait. I will be done in a few minutes.”

Seriously? Six years of blog posts, scraped and archived in an Excel sheet in just a few minutes? But, yeah, that’s what happened.

Now, suddenly, I feel so naïve for all those times I thought, “Hey, I’ll just quickly take the quiz and delete access to my account immediately after I’m done.”

Because, well, obviously if some nerd on Fiverr can scrape my blog on in five minutes with the archive buttons broken on it, then clearly some high-end analytics and hacking company can do a whole lot more than that on Facebook.

We’ve Always Been the Product

There’s a whole world out there that lives and dies by information alone, because information spurs whole markets. We’re the commodity. We’re the meal ticket. They need to know about us, and the more they know, the more they profit.

This is the world model now, and it’s not just Facebook. Facebook’s just who got caught. Are you kidding me?

Our radio habits, TV habits, reading habits – they’ve been scrutinized for nearly a century. From the Nielsen Ratings to Facebook “likes,” it’s all the same. We’re just bigger participants than we’ve ever been, giving them more and more data sets by which to judge us, watch us, learn from us.

Opting Out A Little at a Time

I’ve gone nomad, so I live out of my duffle bag. I can’t buy stuff, ‘cause I got no place to put stuff. Do you have any idea how categorically life-changing it is to have nowhere to put stuff, to not be a stuff-buyer anymore?

Think about all the times you browse shops mindlessly with friends. The last time I did that, it was August 2015, and I realized how this wasn’t a thing I could do, or wanted to do, anymore. Why look at things I can’t buy? Why browse? I distinctly remember standing in that Chinatown shop with my friends J and B, and their two kids, as they all pored over the knickknacks, and I stood looking out at the street, realizing I was no longer someone who could browse and impulse-buy. My life was designed against that.

Now, when I visit towns, people invariably tell me about some cute shop or consumer district I have to browse. Why? Nothing’s coming with me when I pack up in a month. I might as well just throw my time in the garbage, because there’s nothing for me in those shops. To browse is actively opting into feeling a sense of loss and desire, neither of which I can quell, because buying shit ain’t my solution. It can’t be. I gotta weigh in at another airport soon, and there’s nothing else I can take with me.

You’re Becoming Fuller, Not Fulfilled

Through all this when I started to realize how much of life is designed to make us unhappy with what we have, so we spend more. Because, face it, life on Planet Earth is about spending money we don’t need to spend, so we can buy things we don’t need, all so that industries that don’t care about our happiness can stay flush with our cash.

The advertisements, the commercials, the product reviews, the featured technology – it’s everywhere, all around us, and all of it designed to do one thing: To distract us from the fact that modern life is not fulfilling.

We don’t make stuff, most of us don’t see anything created from our day-to-day jobs – we see code. We see numbers. We see saved files. But we don’t make anything, we have no sense of creative pride. It’s just cogs turning on a wheel.

“Happiness” For Sale!

So, our Facebook trackers track us as we mindlessly browse the web, looking for some momentary sense of fulfilment or spectacle. Soon, a pop-up advertisement says, “Hey. Remember those Fluevog shoes you were browsing? We have those. Buy those! Come to our site! You’ll feel better with new shoes in your life. Because Fluevog!”

But do you? Do you feel better? Or is it just another hour or a day of distraction that you’ve rented to keep from being aware of how little you’re really satisfied with in your life?

Unfortunately, we’ve created a world where nearly all of us are cogs in this machine. We’re all involved in the conspiracy to make people buy stuff, acquire stuff, need stuff. Without them getting stuff, we’re out of a job. Quite the cycle.

And industry, it wants more ways to make money off us, and that’s where Facebook and social media come in. Never has marketing been able to watch us squirm under a microscope, but now they can.

But we’ve also never had a megaphone for our discontent like we do now, either. So, now people like me can speak up and say, “Whoa… whatcha doing? You don’t NEED that. Stop buying things. Stop being a part of the big machine.”

For every voice like mine, there’s another machination going to work to make sure you don’t listen to me. Algorithms. The matrix. It’s a thing. Of course you need a new phone. Pfft, no you don’t have enough shoes. How could you ever be happy without that sunflower jacket? Come on, spend a little, live a little. Buy joy!

Put your money where your happy is, little proletariat. Do it. Do it!

And God forbid you actually feel happy. Happy people are the worst possible outcome for business and politics.

If you’re happy, you’re content, and if you’re content, you don’t need anything, and if you don’t need anything, you’re not spending money, and if you’re not spending money, then industry can’t profit off you, and if industry can’t profit off you, the local politician can’t woo them to open a factory so they can employ locals to make more shit to sell to more people.

Am I oversimplifying? Pfft, of course I am. But I’m not far off the mark. The unhappier you are, the better it is for society, and when Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest can stoke the fires of discontent, it’s better for the bottom dollar on everything but you.

Saying No, That’s Also a Thing

Being content? It’s nice. Not buying shit? It’s good for the morale. Not having clutter? Great for the soul. Not racking up debt? Good for the sanity.

Unfortunately, we’re in the age of outrage. That’s a whole ‘nother post for another time. We’re far more likely to feel rage than joy, sadness than happiness. I’d like to say that’s all a choice, but it’s more complicated than choosing life, choosing joy.

Especially when social media is basically the harbinger of the winter of our discontent.

John Steinbeck wrote, in The Winter of Our Discontent, “Money does not change the sickness, only the symptoms.” Maybe the same can be said of Facebook and other forms of social media.

Social media didn’t change my sickness, just my symptoms. I spoke up, shouted, said my piece, and things never got better, things didn’t change. I wrote and raged and roared, but still I was unhappy. I was locked into a lifestyle. Like Billy Corgan sang, despite all my rage I was just a rat in a cage.

In a lot of ways, going nomadic probably saved my life. I wasn’t suicidal or anything, but I’d fallen into such a state of apathy and discontent that my life felt meaningless and soulless. It wasn’t until I walked away from the status quo and told myself “I am not my stuff” and sold everything that I began to plug into the matrix a little less.

I still had my plug in the wall. Just not as many of them.

Choose Better (At Least Some of the Time)

As time goes on, I realize this nomad life I’m living – a simple life where I collect snapshots of times, moments in different lives, in different corners of the world – helps me find my contentment and my joy in different ways. It’s in a sandwich or a coffee, a glass of wine as I watch the sun sink over my latest city. It’s in picking up a bunch of papers knocked over by an old Greek lady who can’t pick ‘em up, but who flushes a string of Greek gratitude for my momentary act of kindness. My fulfilment comes in small, strange ways every day, and nearly none of them are breaking the bank or filling my bag.

And yet I’m on Facebook. I’m on Twitter. The Mueller investigation kicks sand in my face. My friends with nice cars and boats and new beds and comfy homes make me realize I have this but want that too. So, I’m not fully content. I’m not completely happy with the life I live. Will I ever be? Is anyone?

Meh. I don’t know.

But in the meantime, Facebook will know if I am. You probably will too. Twitter will. The datamining motherfuckers crawling beneath it all, they’ll know too.

At least I know they know, and I understand their motivations. Maybe, in this brave new world of the winter of our discontent, that’s the only kinda winning we’ll achieve. Take my victories, however small and fleeting, where I can, right?

And I can keep clicking on all the ads on Facebook and Twitter, choosing to “hide ad” and then say the reason is, “it’s offensive.” Because, hey, man. It is. My happy ain’t for sale. Not anymore.

The Fine Art of Full Circles: The Cunt is Back

[tap-tap-tap] Is this thing on?

Oh. Hi! You’re here. Hello.

Three or so years ago, when I last wrote on this blog, I never could’ve imagined the next time I posted would be in Crete, Greece, where dogs bark and a breeze blows under a warm sun. Life’s good in the Greek Islands.

But here I am and there you are. Much has happened in that time. Hence the whole “Crete, Greece” thing.

Why did I stop writing here? Mm. Lots of reasons, I guess. Getting stereotyped, feeling done. Being spent. Working too much. And the most cardinal sin of them all, I had nothing to say. I’d become exhausted from being angry, shouting in the wind, being a rat in a cage. There’s only so long you can be angry before you realize that maybe, just maybe, the problem is you.

So, I stopped writing at The Cunt. I kept writing. But, for money. For credibility. For a whole lot of reasons, but I no longer wrote for the hell of it.

Looking back, I wonder if I was trying to outrun myself, to leave this place in the distance. Maybe if I wasn’t this, my life wouldn’t be that. I’m not sure. But I do know I ain’t outran anything. Truth is, there’s never only one reason our life isn’t what we’d hoped it would be.

And the further I’ve gotten, the prouder I am of where I was. The big pictures is easier to see when we get space between it and us.

The Clarity of Then and Now

In the hazy light of getting older, it feels like this blog and I have been through hell and back. Hyperbole? Only a little. This place and I know where we’ve been. From getting 5,000 to 10,000 visitors a day and crashing down to 50, from being interviewed on national US radio without credit through to being stalked by would-be employers, and, later, fired from jobs. From making my dating life impossible to getting judged based on what was, at times, a persona I affected… well.

Yeah, The Cunt just stopped being fun. If it ain’t fun, man, don’t do it. And sure as shit don’t do it when it’s that hard and you’re not getting paid.

It’s fitting that, on my walk through Heraklion after writing this first draft, I passed graffiti that read “Love the life you live, live the life you love.” It’s like I called 1-800-Dial-a-Graffiti to get something special for me. The graffiti you need, when you need it.

Two and a half years of travelling the world is a hell of a long ways to go to learn a very simple lesson — that I gotta go my own way. Again. Shot by me in Albania.

Love the Thing You Do

I love being a writer, but for a while, I didn’t. I didn’t want to be your guru, your voice in the storm. I didn’t want to shout about injustices anymore.

In a way, I rediscovered some of who I was in writing a piece about Jian Ghomeshi that spread like wildfire in October 2014. By then, I’d already been not writing here for a couple years. It felt good to write that article and smack that jerk down. But because I picked up that mantle and ran with it, suddenly I became that girl. That’s what people wanted my writing. Advocacy, shouting into the storm, giving a voice for the voiceless.

Whoa. No. That’s a big load for an  unpaid blogger. I advocate, but I’m not an advocate. Verb, not noun. I write about the world, not one subject, hence writing stays fresh and fun for me when it’s going well. I loathe a one-note writing life.

There were many reasons I needed a clean break from this place… to figure out who I was again, to tap into things I am and things I’d been before I became “this” – and I’d take that break again. In a heartbeat.

Lately, though, I’ve found myself wanting a place to let loose, where writing is fun. Fun for me. Maybe fun for you. But, honestly, my enjoyment is the priority. If it’s fun for me, though, I bet it’s fun for you, too. That’d be a double-win. Yay!

My Life-Long Journey: Self-Acceptance

Nearly 13 years later, deep down, I’m still that girl who giggled mischievously upon thinking of the name “Cunting Linguist.”

I’ll always have that spitfire that makes me an acquired taste and a button-pusher. Some people will just never, ever like me, and that’s okay. I’m sure it’s mutual. Fresh out of fucks to give for people who think my brand of authenticity is jarring. Do you. I got me covered. We both fit in this world.

So, beyond the taking a break thing, in case you’ve been out to lunch or totally missed it, I’m in the middle of travelling the world for five years. At the end of this month, I roll into my 20th country in 31 months. I write about that here. I’ve twice circumnavigated the globe, yada, yada. Ditched the house and the domestic dreams. The leather furniture’s gone, the years of collecting and amassing of stuff has given way to me living out of a duffle bag with raggedy clothes. Sometimes I write for people like Washington Post and Yahoo! and Canadian Traveller. My life has become a mix of crazy and amazing and so damn tiring.

One of the problems with travelling the world for five years is that I’m always making a first impression. I’m always a guest. I’m an ambassador, a diplomat, an outsider looking in.

Sooner or later, my being a tactful, diplomatic person had to reach a breaking point, and this is that.

Now I need a place to let loose, rant, fume, grumble, snipe, mock, provoke.

I need a button to push.

Then it occurred to me: I have one. I’m The Cunting Linguist, y’all.

Been A Long Time Coming

In the nearly 13 years since I first hit “publish” here, the world’s changed. They’ve finally added the word “cunting” to dictionary. Joy! The world’s changed in other ways. We’re angrier. More divided. We’re on the cusp of bad times, if we’re not there already.

The world needs people willing to wade through shit and hold reason up to the light, pointing at it, shouting, “LOOK! REASON!”

But have you heard? The blog is dead.

I stubbornly refuse to believe that. Blogging just got boring and omnipresent, but boring never lived on The Cunt when times were good.

So, what will my resurrecting this place mean? Mm, I’m not sure. But the great thing about The Cunt was that it was my catch-all. It was anything I needed it to be, because it reflected so many parts of who I am – including my antagonistic, confrontational bits that should never, ever emerge during these travels I’m on. Writing here was comfortable, easy. I usually wrote and published something in under ninety minutes because it just exploded out of me. I wrote solely when I wanted to, but then I stopped wanting to write.

I can’t find the quote now, but I remember some passing interview with a great Canadian writer like Robertson Davies or Mordecai Richler where they said, “a writer ought not write until the thought of not writing becomes unbearable.”

Tough way to get paid, Mr. Dead Writer Guy, but I see what you’re saying.

Well, I don’t know how often I’ll post here, but I know the thought of not doing it anymore has now become unbearable. I’m fit to burst. I can’t post much; I have too much work in my life, a world to visit, things to see, a book I’m writing, travels to plan, books to read.

But The Cunt is a part of me that I’ve been missing – a big part. It’s my inner-instigator, my agent provocateur. My flame-thrower and my magnifying glass. My inquisitor.

Writing for The Cunt wasn’t ever hard. I made the rules, I didn’t have to please anyone. I had no fucks to give and didn’t acquiesce no how. I plan to unleash that again, because it’s part of who I am, I guess, and denying it isn’t doing my soul much good. In the years since I started this joint, it’s become trendy to be confrontational, to throw around words like “fuck”. But I was doing it on the web long before it was commonplace.

Look, ma. I don’t make up no words. Validation, baby. Good thing I kept the URL, eh?

To Get it Together, You Gotta Come Apart

Unfortunately for me, I had a very tumultuous, scary few years where employment was forever shaky, and life got hard, hard, hard. This blog became a liability to my lifestyle. In every way.

Somewhere along the way, between 2008 and now, I started caring what people thought. Before 2008, this was one damn fun blog. After that, in those troubled times, I lost my way, both personally and existentially, and I lost my way in writing too.

Caring what people think is no way to live. For a writer, it’s death.

In some ways, I’ve found myself again. I’ve connected with this bad-ass chick travelling the world alone, who doesn’t give a shit what conformity is supposed to be, who’s making her own way on her own time. But, somehow, that travelling bad-ass version of me doesn’t feel wholly authentic, because I’m also the ambassador first-impression-maker tip-toeing through cultures in which I’m a guest. I never feel at home in the world anymore, and that, too, is sometimes no way to live.

I love being that travelling ambassador, but I also want to be the bad-ass who says what she wants when she wants to say it. I am the queen of duality and can easily straddle being the erudite, thoughtful writer of travelogues over at as well as being this, and I know now, that’s the mix I want. More importantly, it’s what I need.

The Cunt is… me. Who the hell have I been kidding?

I Had to Leave Home to Find Home

For a long time, I’ve been proud of the direction in which my writing is going. But, of late, I’m realizing I have much to be proud of where my writing’s been, too. Fuck the naysayers.

If I dig deep on this blog, I’ll realize I was a hell of a lot more brave and fearless than I give myself credit for being, and it’s time I accept that all of this – the hellion, the rebel, and the provocateur are parts of me that I don’t ever want to water down. The world needs some of us people who have no fucks to give, who speak truth to power, and who are proud to shine a light on how out of whack and weird we all are.

They say that the longer we travel, the more likely we are to come full circle, and maybe that’s what I’ve done. I may no longer have a home, but maybe this blog is my coming home in a different way.

Maybe this is all the home I’ve ever needed.

I got no promises for you, friends. There are no guarantees, no timelines, no assurances. I’m back, The Cunt is open for business, but you’ll get what you get when you get it.

But it’s something, and it’s a start. That’s the only promise I got: This is just the start.

Me and an elephant, just hanging in Thailand. Sure, he’s concrete, but he’s still got cred.