Hello, friends. It’s been a while.
I haven’t been active on this blog because I’ve been very active on social media over the past couple of years. Also, I’ve been wrapped up in the mad scramble that is Army Medical Retirement—imagine a scavenger hunt designed entirely by idiots. I’m only a few weeks out from leaving the military permanently. All I have to do is not get killed for four more weeks. This, I hear, is the key to the retirement program.
I’m getting out of the Army on 23 June. What’s important here is, I’m currently burning all my accumulated leave, a process the Army refers to as “Terminal Leave.” Effectively, I’m still getting paid for another few weeks but I’m not allowed to go to work. Don’t look at me that way; they’re your tax dollars.
The Army has determined me to be 80% disabled, with the entirety composed of combat-related injuries. If you’ve served, you know what kind severity we’re talking about. If you haven’t served, just know that the most common way to get 80% is losing all four limbs. Having PTSD and committing suicide because of it gets you 70%. The Army rates you 100% if you’re in a permanent vegetative state.
I got kinda jacked up during my career.
I’ve had 8 tours; that 80% disability rating works out to 10% per tour, which roughly equates to the amount of sweat, blood, sleep, and knuckle skin I’ve lost on each. I’m calling it fair and walking away before the Army asks for that last 20%.
As soon as I hit the finish line, I’ll be writing full-time. There will be more books.
A few other quick notes.
1. I have been permanently and irrevocably suspended from Twitter.
I got into an argument with someone who I suspected was a Russian troll, and me being me, I called him out as being part of one of Russia’s two major cyber information-operations units.
He reported me to Twitter for doxxing him—which is hilarious, because I was totally guessing. However, Twitter in their wisdom decided NOT to ban a Russian PSYOP soldier who admitted to being a Russian PSYOP soldier; they banned me, instead, for “posting his personal information.” I wish I was making this up. He has since deleted his account, so I guess nobody wins. Sting and Wargames were right.
2. I loathe the other social media sites. People are terrible, and social media is made of people. Further, I resent my phone, and a hundred times moreso ever since the word “retirement” entered my regular vocabulary. I hate typing on it, I have a throw-the-sonofabitch-into-the-pond relationship with predictive text, and I live in the dark of the woods where signal blows. As more and more platforms mandate that you use your phone, I pay less and less attention to them.
For book sales, current major social media platforms are idiotic. GoodReads is overrun with bots and swarms. TikTok makes no sense for books. (Yes, I know BookTok exists. If you have a BookTok account and want to talk to me or review a book of mine, use the form at the bottom of this page and reach out.) SnapChat is for dating. And Instagram has become . . . I don’t even know.
When someone tells me they’re a model on Instagram, I respond by telling them I’m a pilot in Star Citizen.
3. Screw Facebook. To me it’s not even a matter of Zuckerberg, or the company’s misuse of information, or its relationship with Peter Thiel, or its election fuckery, or its harboring and coddling of militia and white supremacist groups, or its selling your information to the highest bidder including the Russians. Facebook is a terrible platform for selling books.
I can get the same results as a Facebook ad by standing on my deck and shouting “I WROTE A BOOK!” at the top of my lungs over and over while tearing up $20 bills each time.
4. People reading social media aren’t reading books. Okay; some of you are. I mean, by the law of averages, someone has to be. But people who are on SM all the time, enough to pick up one of my Tweets, for instance, are not likely to be reading much else. At least, that’s what my sales records tell me. My biggest Twitter engagement came last year; a post received over 3,000 likes and another was picked up by a major content mill and was included in a post that received over 10,000 likes. My total sales from those two Tweets, which racked up hundreds of thousands of engagements? One, perhaps two books outside my usual sales. There’s an opportunity cost-benefit equation there that really, really sucks.
5. The point behind the internet was to create a series of (tubes; just kidding) interconnected nodes, which could never be taken down. When 50% or more of all content belongs to four or five platforms, any one of them crashing—or the company failing because it’s bought by a fuckin’ dimwit whose “genius” turns out to be inheriting an assload of White Supremacy-linked Conflict Emerald Starter Money—becomes a catastrophe. By leaving these content farms, we stabilize the system.
6. The lack of privacy in the world is repressive. I’m building a wall—a literal wall—around FOB Malik.
I’ll come out from the newly renovated Castle Malik a few times a year for convention appearances and author events, and eventually for book tours.
This is part of that. Oxblood Books will maintain its Twitter account at @OxbloodBooks, as well as the Joseph Malik page at FaceBook (@jmalikauthor) for announcements. My agent’s Twitter account will stay up at @HershmanRights. I’ll keep my website, this blog, and a couple of forum memberships active.
Other than that, scale the wall and wave your arms real hard until the cameras pick you up.
7. My final reason for walking away from social media is perhaps the most important: Our lives don’t need to be viewed in order to be valid.
Your most menial actions don’t need to be broadcast. Hell, even your largest actions don’t; if you do something big enough, other people will broadcast it for you. So, get out there and do something. Do it just for the hell of it. Keep little secrets. Keep big secrets. Privacy is now a quietly devastating form of rebellion.
You want to wreck The Machine? Starve it. That’s the best answer I’m willing to give right now.