Monthly Archives: November 2014

Watch out! Everything is trying to addict you to it!

“Why do people watch so much TV?” someone asked me. “Because like most things, it’s trying addict us to it” was the first response that came to my mind.

It’s true. Humans love to interact. Screens provide us with a form of interaction and we respond. But SCREENS ARE ALL AROUND US! We watch people’s lives on TV, send messages through facebook, text, watch online videos, comment on posts by our favourite celebrities, all out of our desire to interact. What’s wrong with that? Well, a friend of mine always says “you can tell something is addictive if the more you do it, the worse you feel, yet you keep wanting more of it”.Square-eyes Ask yourself if there’s anything in your life that you feel this way about? The likelihood is that “screen time” is on your list. You know how you’re tempted to just keep clicking on more and more distracting things on the Internet even when you’re not really enjoying it? Or maybe you can spend 16hrs playing a computer game without noticing RSI, eyestrain and muscle cramp?

The problem with all these interactions is that because they are through a screen, they are not truly emotionally fulfilling. A dog knows that people on Skype have no smell, and part of us knows that we are not getting any human warmth from screens, even if we are interacting with friends. But on the surface, we are fooled, and the more we engage with screens, the less time we spend with real people. We get more lonely. Screen time doesn’t stop the loneliness but it temporarily blocks it. So whilst we don’t feel satisfied by screen staring, we feel worse when we turn it off. This is how people end up spending all their recreational hours in front of the TV or computer. It’s addictive because it pretends it’s alleviates loneliness, whilst making you feel MORE lonely. It’s masquerading as the cure for the problem it’s creating.

Don’t forget: TV wants you to watch it, so it can show you adverts. It uses cliff-hanger endings to addict you to programs so you’ll watch more. Computer games want you to keep playing, so you’ll buy the next game. The Internet wants to keep you clicking on little 3min distractors until they total hours. It wants to collect your user data and show you that sidebar of ads. These ads, compound the problem, fooling your psyche into thinking you’ll feel happier if you buy a certain product or service. But really, this is the same premise – spending creates temporary high that can mask unhappiness for a little while. Consumerism too masquerades as the cure for the problem it’s creating.

So what’s the answer? Well, go back to your list of things that make you feel worse, yet are strangely compelling. Now, make a second list: a list of things that really do make you feel good, like seeing friends, or learning something new. Instead of simply banning yourself from the things on your first list, start doing more of the things on your second list. Put one in your diary every day of the week, and soon you won’t have time for the things on list 1. You can ban yourself from list 1 too if you like, but it’s much more important to fill your life with things from list 2, otherwise you’ll be left with an empty hole where list 1 used to be. Chances are, if you don’t give up screen-time altogether, you’ll notice that it’ll lose its additive pull for you.

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Filed under alternative, leisure, lifestyle, minimalism

Response To The “Musicians & Their Day Jobs” Article

It was refreshing to read Hannah Ewen’s exposé, revealing that many musicians from the current UK charts work  minimum-wage day jobs. Of course this makes sense, because such jobs can be temporary and can be jacked-in to go on tour. It seems like many bands simply slog it out… work 9-5 for minimum wage, followed by evening & weekend rehearsals, plus endless promotion & pushing. Sounds like a grind!

This weblog was conceived to show one musician’s solution (mine) to exactly this problem: original music doesn’t pay the rent. In an economic climate rife with wage poverty, even those working full time are struggling to make ends meet. What hope is there for those who wants to fit a few days of art into each week?

My current home - a winter let near Exeter at very low cost since the room is in the middle of being re-decorated to be let "properly" next year.

My current home – a winter let near Exeter at very low cost on account of the fact that the room is in the middle of being re-decorated to be let “properly” next year.

My solutions in the past 6 years have centred around living in alternative dwellings, to save on rent. Thus I survive working part time and making time for music. And of course, the best way to have a reliable part time job is to be self-employed. Honestly, I don’t know why bankers have so much against it! People are being made redundant all the time, but I’m never going to fire me!

Musicians also talk about “the teaching trap”. This is when you lose sight of wanting to push your own music because teaching is so much easier and more rewarding. As a teacher, you’re generally much more appreciated than you are as a performer, but don’t let it extinguish your lust to be creative!

Hannah’s article points out that rock-star’s fans don’t imagine their heroes working in McDonald’s. Even she, a music journalist, didn’t know that most musicians have day jobs until she researched the article.

It’s often commented that people should make music for the love of it, not the money. But I think that’s flawed logic because that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t be paid. Just think how much more productive each of those musicians would be if they had those 40 extra hours per week to make music instead of working!

I’m glad she wrote the article, as it will help non-musicians understand the situation. Although my extended family are very good to me, some aspects of my life are hard for them to grasp since they’re not musicians. On their terms I’m simply not as successful as other family members my age. Of my 3 cousins, 2 have the same teaching qualification as me and teach full-time. It’s hard for older members of the family to understand why I don’t have a full-time teaching job too. The years I’ve spent teaching on a BTEC and lecturing on a music degree don’t seem to register, maybe because it’s always been part time. I can only imagine that my music career registers with them as “failed”, since they haven’t seen me on TV.

But Hannah’s article also serves to make me aware that just because my original music doesn’t pay my rent, that doesn’t mean my music career is a failure…in fact it’s a success! Three self-released and self-produced records in the past 6 years, regular gigs and a good reputation is a success. Not to mention my work as a producer ( and teacher. I’m not saying so to blow my own horn, but to encourage anyone out there in the same boat. The impossible task of celebrity rock-stardom is so often held out in-front of us like it’s the bar. It’s as if Adele & Coldplay are the only artists who are considered “successful” and the rest of us haven’t “made it” because we still have day jobs. Rubbish!

If you make music every day, you’re a successful musician! Simple as that.

Pass it on!


Listen to Kimwei’s original acoustic music at ,

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Filed under music, musicians, self employed