THIS POST WAS ORIGINALLY SHARED ON JANUARY 10, 2022
Except for a few recent signups, most of you recognize this newsletter as Spin Cycle, a recurring newsletter filled with essays on what happens at the crossroads of music and life. Writing for you over the last year has been one of the most fulfilling activities in my life, but as 2021 carried on, I began to feel increasingly burnt out creatively. My passion for music, writing, film, and virtually everything else hit rock bottom.
Around the same time, I realized I needed to disconnect from life online. After spending nearly every day for fifteen straight years tweeting, reacting, commenting, and generally 'living online,' my brain felt broken. My head was a mess of drama and stories and people and experiences that only served to complicate my life if they had any purpose at all. I did not need to tweet or watch Instagram stories, yet my body wanted it.
You don't have to host three seasons of a podcast about addiction to recognize addiction when you see it.
So, for the last several weeks, I've been living life as though digital technology stopped somewhere around 2005. I deleted social media apps off my phone, changed my privacy settings, and did my best not to doom scroll through news headlines. I go direct to the publications I trust for information whenever something happens. I even started paying for Apple News.
But what about 'The Wampus'?
Good question. As I was working through my feelings about my digital addiction and the supposed benefits of being permanently available at all times to anyone with an internet connection, I felt uncomfortable. The more I considered, the more I realized I was putting too much stock into being always online.
- None of the work I have done in the last two years came about because of Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.
- Not a single project I am currently working on demands that I regularly use those platforms. If they do, I usually need to use a third-party account.
- Of all the people whose opinions I care about, none of them live exclusively online. I can call, text, FaceTime, or even visit with them. Social media doesn't simplify our chats.
Thinking further, I realized that my presence online might hurt my goals. I spent over a decade making a living exclusively by working in the alternative music space, so most of my social media is full of content directed at fans and artists in that genre. However, as I get older, my tastes are evolving, and so is the work I'm hoping to secure. I don't want potential future clients writing me off because they feel I can only write or cover one type of music.
I could go deeper here and talk about all the nonsense I've posted online OR the random content I've liked over my lifetime in social media OR the fear that someone or something I claimed to love years ago suddenly becomes a target for online discourse, but I think you get the idea.
Considering how much of me was in the world that I didn't remember or even know about quickly became a source of great anxiety. My mother says I inherited her sense of worry, and I like to say it's the gift that keeps on giving. Once a thought crosses my mind, I cannot let it go. I will play every negative thought or idea on a loop until my body collapses from being too anxious to eat or sleep, and I will do it all over again the following day. That's who I am, and it's how I'm built.
Then Ed Sheeran saved the day.
I don't know how this happened, but I recently came across an interview where Ed Sheeran is asked why he doesn't post more of his private life on Instagram. His response is great:
"If you look at my Instagram, I'm not posting a selfie every day. I'm posting about songs; I'm like promoting stuff. Instagram is a promotional tool. That is the point of Instagram. Whenever I see a selfie, I want to reach out to that person and be like: Are you having an alright day? Because that is them wanting… They're having a shit day, and they want people to be like: "Oh my god, you look amazing!" And that'll bring them up...Social media, in general, has this like sheen of like, "life is perfect," and it makes everyone else feel like shit because they're like, "Well, why isn't my life perfect?"
Back to 'The Wampus'
With all these thoughts swirling around in my head, I began digging through Appalachian folklore as a way to ease my worried mind. I came across stories about a mythological creature called the Wampus. The creature's origin is hotly debated, but it's believed to watch over people from the woods of Appalachia. Some think of it like a dog, while others swear it's a cat. The Wampus is, in many ways, whatever it needs to be in the moment.
That last part stuck with me. When I think about this newsletter and the soon-to-be-announced projects I'm piecing together for 2022, my efforts may appear scattershot. Some weeks I will be plunging deep into the things that make us tick, but others will feature lighthearted projects that aim to bring more joy into the world.
With that in mind, I'm now using Wampus Creative as a blanket term for all that I create. The Wampus is whatever it needs to be to make the thing we (more on that soon) want to create.
Welcome to The Wampus. We hope you'll stick around.