when I know better, I have to do better

an open sketchbook with a watercolor flower bud on the left page, and the words 'We create our reality from our daily choices; the world consists of bills of realities."

cw: mention of genocide and other types of injustice

I have been having such a very hard time trying to understand why I feel so stuck these past however many weeks or maybe months or maybe years? What is time?

The problem is that I know too much. Or maybe, I understand too much about what I know. And the necessity falls on me, if I am going to continue to be the person I claim to be, to do something about what I know, whether or not it’s hard and no matter how long it takes.

and there are so many things to know all the time, some of which are horrifying

I know that Meta (formerly Facebook) is literally responsible for enabling a genocide. I know that their new social media app Threads gathers FAR more information than is safe or necessary unless you’re a company that is literally responsible for genocide.

I know (I think it’s fairly obvious to everyone) that Twitter is well and truly fucked up in an irreparable way.

I know that Substack is responsible for giving big platforms to hateful people.

some of which are truths about praxis, and some of which are truths about us as people

I know that there is no ethical consumption under capitalism. Any transaction under capitalism utilizes a system that does violence to everyone, and that is a tricky thing indeed when one is living in a country in the throes of post-capitalism. Or, if you like, we are in the throes of the ‘finding out’ moments that come after the ‘fuck around’ bit.

I know that living here in this country has traumatized us all, some much much more than others. I know that I carry the trauma in my DNA, and so do my kids. I know all too well how easy it is to lose hope.

I know that COVID has disrupted, harmed, and made a bloody mess of our lived experiences. It has made everything worse for so many of us.

I know that people are capable of forming and participating in community anywhere people and relationships can be found. (as an animist, I feel it’s important to say that community and relationships include non-human people as well: the ecosystem we live in, the animals and waterways and land we are surrounded by and inhabit)

I know from experience that being cut off from community can be devastating and all-consuming. I know that finding and forming new communities from well-established bonds or brand new ones is hard goddamn work. I can’t expect anyone to pivot directly to a new social media space in the midst of all that. Change is hard. Figuring out where to go next and where your friends are now is exhausting and such a lot of labor.

I know that these kinds of experiences have led over a million people to join and actively participate in the federated social internet; but I also know that a lot of people we’ve been in community with aren’t going to follow us everywhere we go. It’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of anxiety. It’s painful and confusing and scary to feel in your gut the scattering of your friend group.

some of which are specifically my own issues with my messiah complex and my moral high ground

I am both terrified of not being seen, and scared of being seen.

don’t bother me, bother me please
I’m begging on my hands and my knees
because I love the attention but I hate the affection

ANTIPOP, by gürl & Onlyfriend

I want to devote my life to service, and I am not enough to fill every need or comfort all those who weep (and those who don’t). I can’t be everywhere at once. I tried, and all I got was a hefty dose of burnout on top of existing chronic illnesses I had just discovered.

I have the ego and the expectations of a person that has the attention of thousands of people, with the actual follower lists and email subscribers of a person that has the attention of tens of people.

I know that I say and write and create the kind of content that makes people uncomfortable. Sometimes there’s appreciation and engagement, but I do realize that talking a lot about death and praxis and queerness gives me a pretty narrow group of people who want to hear what it is I think I’m supposed to say.

so I’ve made decisions I didn’t want to make, and there are still plenty of decisions I’m kicking the dirt about

I left Twitter and am no longer publishing at Substack and I am not signing up for Bluesky or Threads or any other social platform that is currently on offer. It’s not my job to exist in all the places so that if anyone ever needs me, they can find me anywhere.

When I worry that there will be a bat signal that I don’t see, I try to remind myself that I am not alone in my purpose to help and serve others; there are a lot of other people also doing this, and I can only do what I can do. One of the most difficult lessons to internalize in my tradition is to count harm to myself into the equations when I am doing the math of harm.

I am wrestling with this a bit: I haven’t stopped listening to true crime podcasts altogether, but I am deeply bothered by the incongruence between abolitionist praxis and the carceral system embedded into the format of most of those podcasts. I can’t excuse myself for nodding along when someone says, “I hope he rots in there,” but I am only recently noticing when that’s happening and what is my immediate response to noticing.

to sum up: I am a paradox

This might be the heart of all this thinking and worrying and doing and not-doing. I contain assumptions that are antithetical to one another, and I don’t even know about all of them. I tend to notice them because I’ve managed to learn something that disagrees with a belief I didn’t realize I held.

And I don’t think there will be a time of perfect clarity of thought and perfect justice in every action. I think I will need to figure out in the decades ahead of me, how to forgive myself for not being perfect.

I’m going to be spreading the word about my writing in a different way — I am going to be sending out full-text posts by email after I publish them, and on the weekends you’ll get a digest of whatever the RSS can pick up from that week. I am also going to try and be more descriptive about what I actually wrote about, when I post links online. I get very in my head after the energy output of writing and publishing something I feel strongly about, and I want to allow myself the time to share my ideas in the ways that seem to make the best kind of sense.

xox, Nix

featured image is a photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash

Nix Kelley
Co-parent to multiple kids. Writer. Death doula. Member of the Order of the Good Death. Seeker on the Path of Light. Queer, non-binary, & trans.


  1. As always, powerful without diving too deeply into the melodramatic. I feel like promoting your doula work into a discord I’m at where the failure to incorporate the eventuality of death and graceful failure have caused such a hideous structure of aiming for constant growth and survival both socially and commercially. Woul that be ok?

  2. Social media… I have no answers, at all, but it’s writing like this that keeps me searching. I continue to participate on FB and now Threads. I am quite isolated and that is where I find my community. And that doesn’t excuse the wrongs participation enables or my complicity. I have no answers, but I won’t stop seeking.

    “ I have the ego and the expectations of a person that has the attention of thousands of people, with the actual follower lists and email subscribers of a person that has the attention of tens of people.” —> Oh, I felt this like I had written this. It would help if I actually ever published anything, I suppose, as opposed to expressing thoughts in conversation with myself or in my journal and hoping others hear them through the whispers of trees or some such.

    Thank you for continuing to show up wholly. I always take away something from your writing, even when I don’t comment to say so.

    1. I would enjoy reading the things you might write. I can’t recall if I’m on any list of yours, but if you have a link to it, could you put it here? 🖤

  3. There’s no completely ethical way to get a message out in 2023. The billionaires control the means of communication, so we have to decide if the positive we can do outweighs the negative.

    You have an extraordinary capacity for doing good, but I don’t know where that balance is for you.


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