Brain food #1

My relationship with the internet has gotten very weird, as I’ve alluded. My husband and I got into an interesting dive of a conversation recently as we were talking about some of the goals I have set for myself for the summer, which included some background website work.

“No one is really blogging anymore.” (Him)

“No, not really.” (Me) (Contemplating if all the work I want to do is even worth it..)

Well…technically, everyone is still blogging, writing, content creating. It’s just behind paywalls.” (Me)

This led to a pretty technical discussion of Patreon, Substack, Instagram Subscriptions, internet workshops and more. We’re not just talking out of our butts, either. My husband is the IT director for a very large, privately held manufacturing company. He has been in the IT business since roughly 2006, which is the same time I began blogging. For nearly a decade, I myself was involved heavily in graphic web design, marketing, social media, and build outs for online workshops, especially. I was the technical director for a traditional publication that moved to an online publication around 2012. It came to a close when the medical challenges of our children overtook everything else.

I am a dinosaur in a lot of ways when it comes to internet land. Social media. I’ve watched close internet friends (who are also real life friends) go on to become published authors- NYT best sellers, even- in the intervening decade and a half. I’ve watched as vast swaths of the internet that were once friendly and open and community driven have dropped behind paywall after paywall. I’ve heard from my author-friends about the absolute algorithm fueled absurdity they are now forced to dance through as part of their contracts. It’s absolutely nuts. My friends are all creators and writers. I am a creator and writer. I want my friends to be able to eat. I want to be able to eat. But sitting in my dinosaur seat, as I said to my husband, I find myself a bit frustrated with the paywall system. It doesn’t engender community at all. It closes out quite a few people who really should be at the table, but who just can’t pocket half a dozen $5 and $10 subs to creator and writer patreons. I myself can’t. There was one artist whom I gladly paid a patreon sub for without blinking for as long as I could afford it because her content was amazing for the $5 a month she charged. It was chock full of goodness, and it inspired me so much, and it was cheaper than the cup of coffee I couldn’t really afford at the time either. But the time came, with all of our medical challenges and costs, that I had to give it up. That was roughly two years ago. I haven’t done anything since. I am considering one subscription ($9/mo) for the summer, approximately three months, because it fits in with the goals I have set for the summer. But yea…..it’s a conundrum.

My husband and I both agree that it feels like that there is a weird zeitgeist crossroads moment happening in tech right now, on the larger scale, especially with the AI moving way faster than the US government can legislate it (oh to be in a EU country right now!). It feels like the whole creator/paywall thing is hitting a moment, too, to me. I don’t know. We have to be able to protect our intellectual work, make a decent living. But where’s the sweet spot? I’m not judging any of my creator/author friends, lest you hear me condemning. I’m not. I have more than once considered all of those avenues myself at various times, but our medical needs so overtook any other focus that my patreon, et al, have always sat unused and unbuilt. Goodness knows I have all the skills to build it out and market it; I just never have. I’ve always done it for others.

All that to say, I think I’d like to make a way on the weekends to highlight some of the free stuff I find around that I’ve really been fed by recently.


First, a link that was smack right to the conversation my husband and I were having about it all:

The fastest growing sector of the culture economy is distraction. Or call it scrolling or swiping or wasting time or whatever you want. But it’s not art or entertainment, just ceaseless activity.

Ted Goia, The Honest Broker, The State of the Culture, 2024

My family and I found Fr. Johannes quite by accident. He’s a Catholic priest monk who lives in the mountains of Northern Italy when he isn’t traveling for priest things. He filmed a Year in a the Life, and this one is the last one of the series, but, I’m telling you, they are all good. Peaceful, quiet, thoughtful. We’re the type that enjoy watching people build things and garden and stuff. You learn so much that way. And he will challenge you, spiritually. We like that too, Orthodox though we may be. No matter what denomination you are, you will gain some kick in the pants in the best way.

My kids are all older, but I have really been enjoying Autumn Kern’s YouTube offerings more for my own brain food than for my kids. I definitely lean more to the classical side of the homeschooling house than the Charlotte Mason one, but I tell you, there’s not a single video of hers that has come up empty on me yet. I’ve only recently started listening to her podcast. This is recording of a recent podcast that was just. so. good. And also kicked my pants in the best possible way. And like Autumn, I discovered that apparently everyone in my parish knew of Dcn. Kotar and I was terribly late to the scene! I’m glad I got on board!


And before I forget, speaking of Substacks: one of the best brain food curators bar none is Haley Baumeister at Life Considered, whom I found via Amber Haines ages ago. Seriously. Go subscribe. Your heart and mind will thank you.

What good brain food have you been enjoying recently? Because we all know the internet isn’t all bad.


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