I’m Not Your Stepping Stone

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Some very interesting conversations have taken place this week, mostly with people who don’t follow me on Social media and I know have no intention of doing so. What is becoming apparent, as I push further into looking for followers and extending a potential audience for the various projects I’m creating, is that there seem to be two major schools of online thought. For the sake of argument, lets call them Red and Blue. Those in the Red camp seem more concerned with the Internet being used as education, to make life better for everybody, and to help balance the quite obvious inequality that currently exists, especially towards anyone who isn’t white, male and heterosexual (your perception may vary.) In the Blue camp? Let’s see how much money and prestige we can milk from exploiting people’s fears and stupidity before they notice.

In the cracks between the colours however, a remarkable amount of fruitful, enlightening discussion and possibilities lie. You just have to put aside the desire to fight with everybody, that each interaction is the start of a potential fight, or that randos just pop out of nowhere determined to start a fight. Once all that mental baggage is dispensed with, the Internet will teach you stuff. It can expand your mind, make you reconsider the surroundings you call ‘Home’ and allow revelations to surface that would never normally have seen the light of day.

This conversation didn’t start that auspiciously, but because we were both adults and at no point did anybody revert to deliberate provocation? It went really well. It was the equivalent of meeting someone at an event who somebody else knows, discussing a subject in a crowded room (how should social media target an audience) and then moving on. I get to rethink my position, and nobody’s wrong. If you asked me why that happened in this case, I’d make a guess that both me and Matt (assuming this is his real name) probably place ourselves in the Red camp. On extended conversation I discovered he advocated open source platforms for social media use, and believes people gravitate towards Twitter is because it is ‘sexy.’

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I read a really interesting dissection of a current news story this week: there’s a viral doing the rounds that involves CNN and the Orange Twat, and because the latter do have some basic intelligence they were able to track down the person responsible for creating it. When challenged, it transpires that the reason why this person did it was, quite literally, for the LOLs and that attention has become a drug an increasing number of people are becoming addicted to. They’d not thought of the bigger forces involved, and was just making stuff to maintain an online presence. It is completely believable too: I just have to look at the sites my daughter and her friends subscribe to for an understanding of how ‘being internet famous’ is rapidly becoming acceptable as a career path alongside a lawyer or a marine biologist.

That’s the goal for so many in the gaming spheres I hang out in too. A cursory look at any number of Twitter bios reveal what gets priority: I’m writing for this website, and I have my own crafting page so you can grab a piece of me for the upcoming Convention or to simply use as news on your own feed. I don’t blame anyone for doing this either, because for a couple of years this was me. For a while however I’ve refused to tow any line that quietly encourages elitism, competition and exclusion for the sole purpose of selling a product. I’ve always stood on the fringes, and on reflection I like myself far more for doing so. The truth and what matters more is listening to every voice and being able to accept what I hear. The problem, I’ve discovered in the last few years, is that other people don’t like being told that.

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Choices have to be made at every step of your Social media journey: do I bother having a rant about someone completely taking my comments out of context to entertain themselves at my expense? Is it worth pointing out to someone they’re simply making things worse by perpetuating falsehoods? Should I tell others how that person has deceived countless others just to further their own ambitions? Increasingly, new followers ask me up front if they think I’m referring to them, but most of the time ‘Guilty Conscience Syndrome’ is just that: you believe you’re being talked about, because the last conversation you had with that same person contained a situation where you think you might have fucked up. As I had to point out last week, if I wanna point a finger at someone, names will be used. But, as is apparent with our CNN/TWAT viral producer, that’s exactly what certain individuals are after, vital fuel to fire aspirations of fame and attention.

It’s why Social media is always people first, and never users at any point ever.

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Someone suggested to me yesterday I could play Social media as an MMO: if that were the case I’d have given up a long time ago. It’s been a long time since I felt the need to block someone too but that happened yesterday, mostly because of the person being a catalyst in the disintegration of a friendship that I doubt I’ll ever be able to repair. Because of the amount of emotional investment I have in Social media, and the fact I have no desire to change that any time soon, being considered as a user rankles in a way that is a surprise. I don’t need my individuality so surgically removed and dismissed, and yet it happens with increasing frequency. I am not here to play corporate games either: I don’t want a part of a future that looks great from a distance but when you get up close expects you to hand over a vital part of yourself to be accepted as part of a whole.

I am what I am ’til I die, and if that means standing alone to do so, then so be it.