Time

header23

My life is coming to a fairly significant crossroads. In just over a month, I commit myself at 50 to becoming my own arbiter, attempting to create a new career as a 21st Century Nonconformist. In a World where so many shout their mantras into the ether, which some believe rotates far too closely around circles of electronic Hell: will I be seen as any different to the heretics and fools that embrace diversity, speeding us all towards the World’s end? This historical period is as close to chaos as many will remember, but for me I am reminded first of the early 1980’s and before the 1970’s: the Cold War and the Three Day Week are memories I carry a world away from what now passes for normal daily life. If the last few days of dreams are any indicator, my subconscious grasps only too readily that these are turbulent times ahead.

fingertheworld.gif

I have always been considered as a troublemaker: however, I never really wholeheartedly embraced the concept of rebellion until I hit my late twenties. I’ve come to most things later than others, I realise now because of the ability to properly grasp implication behind those actions involved. With the benefit of time, an environment was created which allowed me to both develop and evolve at a pace that suited mind and body, and that was not dictated by circumstance. Only now is it becoming apparent how useful that has become in order to be able to see a larger picture. It is also a daily reminder of just how lucky I am as a white, middle-aged woman to have the opportunity to begin with.

laugh1.gif

If I went to the Bank on June 1st and asked for a loan to become a full-time digital writer, they’d laugh at me. I could submit articles to a hundred online sites and be rejected for every single one. This is a profession that is so subjective as for it to be impossible to quantify what matters on any given day: the way in which we devour, create and even transmit our communications alters sometimes on a daily basis. My online newspaper of choice doesn’t simply provide written commentary any more, there are short video ‘articles’ peppered amongst the headlines. If you want a novel to be a success, having robots recognise your website is as important as a set of good reviews. My ability to communicate in 140 character bursts is as important as long form mastery, and textspeak. It isn’t about being ‘down with the kids’ and more either, there are languages for every part of the Web. If you don’t know your Deplorables from the Untouchables? You won’t last long in the Digital Wild West.

ben_hur_041.gif

What I bring to the table in this Digital relationship is time: not only have I been here since inception, but I’ve grown with trends and diversification. I am very much anti Facebook and pro Twitter, but it doesn’t mean I don’t grasp the commercial implications of both. I may avoid SnapChat because of the filters and vanity, but it doesn’t take an idiot to grasp how significant the platform is for a generation of users, for whom instant information is key. Learning how to be a better person might seem a waste of time in a place where nobody needs to know who you are, but when you’re willingly giving away personal details to anyone with a contact form? Consequences will matter. In fact, there will be a generation of Internet users for which the repercussions of digital immersion will only truly become apparent if we can survive the next forty years without the Planet disintegrating around us, mostly because lots of people failed to pay attention to Science when it mattered. Of all of this, in the digital world around us, a grasp of Biology, Physics, Chemistry and every sub-branch in between is more important now than it has ever been.

bookschoose.gif

I’d love to say that telling stories is the real reason I want to be a writer, and although that is true, I’ve realised in the last few years it isn’t all that now matters. I can still spin fictions in the manner I choose, but not at the expense of ignoring bigger stories. The Internet of Words is my way to do many things at once: fulfil my dreams, yes, but also expand the potential of others, because without learning to better communicate as a planet, we are all doomed to failure. It cannot just be any more that you work towards your own ends, making individual success matter. Without everybody being able to win, frankly, there’s not much left to live for. If you think the future is living in your own, safe and consequence free bubble, I suspect there’s some major shocks coming very soon indeed. One of the races in my favourite computer games have a phrase: ‘Time is money, friend’ and this morning I realised that’s more true on an intellectual level than I’d ever previously grasped. The time I have lived is indeed worth something, what I have left to use so precious that not a moment should be wasted.

harrypotter_Ilovemagic

I’m now sitting on a lovely pile of CoPromote reach and on Monday I’ve decided to use the IoW site to officially launch my concept to a bunch of total strangers. I have no idea how this will go down and frankly, I’m not that worried if the interest is minimal. What matters most is having the confidence to stand and fall on an idea, and nothing else. Bringing unique perspective is what I’ve always done best, and I’ve ever been afraid of being unpopular as a result. After all, as I never grow tired of reminding anyone who’ll listen, the reason why you fail is to learn how to succeed. Once you know what not to do, the options become less complex to grasp.

Then all you need is courage to take that first step.

Words

arrivalposter.jpg

It’s been some time since a movie stopped me in my tracks, but last night (as our kids were with their Gran and Grandad) Mr Alt and I ‘rented’ Arrival. It’s probably the best six quid I’ve spent on a film for quite some time, and although it was almost frustratingly slow to start, on reflection the pacing was spot on. It’s also a VERY clever film in terms of its use of a Chinese character (who has a key and pivotal significance to the narrative) as has become the fashion of late for Hollywood. I won’t spoil it for you, because I really urge a watch if you’ve not done so: I guessed the ‘plot’ quite early on, and the signs on the roadmap to final understanding were subtle enough to make this hugely satisfying. My only objection is Renner’s casting as a physicist when all I can see him doing is firing arrows, but that’s my problem to fix and not anyone else’s.

What Arrival has now prompted in my mind is the understanding that language is a hugely subjective tool. There’s a key point in the narrative (which is referenced in the trailer and so won’t spoil you) where, in interpreting the Heptapod’s incredibly complicated, 3D written language, the word ‘weapon’ is used by the aliens with immediate and devastating effect. Crucially, it is immediately understood by Dr Louise Banks (Amy Adams) as a potential mistake: we are teaching aliens our language, and by doing so there is always the possibility that a word can be misinterpreted because of the way we misuse them ourselves. There’s a brilliant scene in the narrative that foreshadows this too: Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) is amazed that the first words that Banks will ‘teach’ are, in his mind ‘grade school’ and only when Louise explains exactly why it has to happen that way is it clear that learning to communicate without misinterpretation is one of the most complicated things we will ever do.

Social media, on any given day, is a perfect example of how that process can get mangled.

Language is a constantly evolving concept: words change meaning from generation to generation. What someone can consider a grievous insult others will laugh at as a clever pun, or an adroit use of definition, and the problem remains the interpretation of the individual. On social media however, there are other issues to consider. If, as has been the case in the past, I’m discussing something in one place with someone who’s reading about other people’s views in two other places, their frame of reference to mine is different, making their interpretation of the key issue inherently different. If all you did on Social media was have one to one conversations, an awful lot of miscommunication and offence would automatically vanish, but often several conversations will go on at once and in amongst this people are asked to make judgements, sometimes based on only a portion of the total facts available. When the definition of those words get mangled, then it can all go to hell very fast, and pretty much always does.

arguments

There is a great deal you can learn from discussion and debate, so much so your kids will be encouraged in school to do just that. My son has been incredibly brave in his admissions, my daughter is just beginning to find a voice which I hope one day will allow her to feel confident in her chosen career. Being comfortable enough to argue is great, but I’ll be the first one to admit that doing so in certain online spaces is a waste of both time and sanity. Even the most erudite of speakers, the most intellectual of human beings has the capacity to become a total imbecile when given half the chance, or the right poke from a Troll. On the flip side, branding a whole group of people as ‘deplorable’ doesn’t do wonders for your PR either. This is where the adage that ‘it takes two to start an argument’ is the mantra to repeat, and the Monty Python sketch on Arguments should be taught to every person who’s never heard it:

M: I came here for a good argument!

O: AH, no you didn’t, you came here for an argument!

M: An argument isn’t just contradiction.

O: Well! it CAN be!

M: No it can’t!

M: An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.

O: No it isn’t!

M: Yes it is! ’tisn’t just contradiction.

O: Look, if I *argue* with you, I must take up a contrary position!

M: Yes but it isn’t just saying ‘no it isn’t’.

O: Yes it is!

M: No it isn’t!

O: Yes it is!

M: No it isn’t!

O: Yes it is!

M: No it ISN’T! Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says.

This week therefore I’ll be doing my utmost to improve communication skills in places where I know they’re lacking. I’ll also remember that it matters just as much who I’m speaking to as what I say, and that a wise woman remembers this and plans accordingly.

Some days, the best thing to do is never to speak to begin with.

Walkaway

It is important, as we mentioned last week, to be able to step back and be objective when living in any space whose rules are defined not just by us. Obsessing about anything can be both destructive and ultimately dangerous, and nowhere is that more true than in an environment where it is easy to shout into the void and never experience dissent. The ‘echo chamber’ concept of social media’s used as a stick to beat me with on an almost weekly basis, and I thought it bore more investigation after the latest incident where someone cited the concept as the reason why a relationship had failed.

Wikipedia considers a media echo chamber as ‘a metaphorical description of a situation in which information, ideas, or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by communication and repetition inside a defined system,’ which in this case will be your own feed and blogs. Effectively an individual ignores basic points which are obvious to those outside the space as not being fairly represented within, if at all. It is a basic concept of curation but executed at the expense of truth: as you remove people from a space which you can and should control and organise, it can appear from certain angles to be censorship of those who disagree with points of view or who cause contention when doing so.

itsatrap

Since the US Election, I’ve made a point of being more politically active, and this has upset a significant portion of my existing readership, enough to cause many of them to leave of their own accord. It also happened in the run up last year, when it became apparent that being disparaging of Republican ideas and sentiments was going to get me into trouble, and yet I’ll still peddle this line regardless. The key here is that I’m not singling out anyone in my feed as an issue, but by being disparaging of a wider viewpoint, those who hold it as sacred will logically assume I’m attacking them. The same feeling is undoubtedly true when I won’t agree with people’s views on Warcraft, feminism, cosplay, breasts, chocolate… and the list goes on and on.

At no point do I ever single someone out as being unreasonable until the Unfollow button gets hit, and only then does it becomes personal. The very act of removal is confirmation to them that something has happened that I don’t like. That’s why Mute can often be considered the coward’s solution to a problematic follower: far easier just to remove them and kop the flack. In fact, it would be fair to assume that had I been more careful and considered my choices to begin with, then there wouldn’t be an issue, but it is often hard to form considered opinions of people when they’re not standing in front of you: that’s why Facebook’s friends of friends concept is such an addictive one. If person X knows you and two genuinely close friends, their choices will be people who mesh with you, right?

The-Dude.gif

The truth is, of course, utter bollocks. That’s why some of us refuse to allow Facebook to dictate terms, and will reassess ‘friends’ on an almost weekly basis. That’s even more true when there’s a contentious issue: I am more than happy to disagree with people, and that happens with predictable regularity. What I’m not prepared to entertain, at any point, is someone else deciding a) what I am thinking and b) what I should do as a result of this. We can not vote the same way, like the same music or even agree on anything at all. I am able to do civil and polite with the entire planet right up to the point where someone points a metaphorical finger at me and states what I have to do because this is what is wrong.

That is the moment when trust is lost, but not always for good.

and

I’ve disagreed with people before, but if when engaging them in dialogue I can believe that there is still a basis for communication, that’s how it works. Everybody can not see eye to eye from time to time, after all. If it becomes apparent that there’s no point in trying to communicate because what I believe isn’t considered either relevant or important, then it is time to reassess. Maybe it is not just my outlook exacerbating the situation: this same person isn’t listening to others either, apparent by the interactions with others I can read and see taking place around us. If their interest is unnecessarily obsessive, or inward facing, or they’re just a shitposting troublemaker? Time eventually shows up the flaws.

If you wait, everybody fucks up eventually, and it is how those moments are dealt with that becomes the real measure of their online persona.

alltheglasses.gif

Why do I do all this navel gazing, I hear some of you ask? I learn from it and it helps me understand how this part of the World works. It allows me to grasp how human beings react in certain situations. Many people, often without realising, reveal sides of themselves online I suspect they wish weren’t as public as are currently the case. It is a delicate balancing act, which most of the sane and sensible individuals deal with by not pressing Tweet or posting on Facebook to begin with, because their real lives are more important than the virtual one. As a writer I balance between disparate worlds on a daily basis, and sitting here trying to find the right sentences to use becomes another part of the understanding process. To communicate successfully to others is no mean feat, I am now discovering, and to make the best job takes far more effort than may people ever really grasp.

It is never an easy task to shout anywhere; to have confidence in a virtual space is not as simple as many would believe. What matters more is to find a voice, and once that is accomplished to learn the best means by which you can explain yourself to a wider audience than just yourself. It is a vital part of human development, and without that internal belief it can be a hard and painful journey to take alone. More importantly still, thinking why things happen and to understand you are as responsible for events that happen around you as anyone else is an important means by which one defines your overall significance (or otherwise) in the communities you are a part of.

The people that surround you are as much a measure of your personality as you are yourself, and knowing that means a constant reassessment of your aquaintances can never be a bad thing.

Gett Off

This is not the post I was going to write today.

I made a conscious decision early in the week to reduce the number of people I’m following. It appears that between 800-900 follows is the limit of what I can cope with, if everybody is polite and I’m capable of assimilating what I’m reading with a dispassionate air. However, if people start getting bolshy, this is hard work. I’m well aware that my mindset isn’t the same as a number of other people right now, but assuming everyone is civil and pleasant, it doesn’t matter. When that changes, and I get grief for refusing to engage, not agreeing with an outlook or generally feel uncomfortable talking to someone? Stuff needs to be done. In the interests of transparency, I will share my deselection process, and then explain why.

smileandwave

First, a follower gets muted on the screens I use for daily work, but not on phone or tablet, so I can still see interaction if/when it happens. If I’m having a particular issue with someone I will keep half an eye on their feed too, as a lot of stuff gets said ‘out of earshot’ that can often be an indicator to someone’s current mood. Yes, I check up on people when I care about them, so what? Then, if when I take that mute off and it appears nothing has changed, I’ll quietly unfollow. Once upon a time I’d tell people, but now with 3k of them in the mix it becomes largely unhelpful, especially for the drama that creates. Occasionally, as has been the case today, I’ll know full well there’s trouble coming, which is all the more reason for not making a big deal about what you’re about to do.

The problem, and it is always this, is that people form unreasonable attachments to other people online. Over time, if you’ve done this with someone, I can guarantee it will go one of two ways. You’re either adults about it, or you’re not. Sadly, it doesn’t work if one person tries to be a grown up and the other one has a massive meltdown. However, if that makes you feel better in your feed, go right ahead, but there’s a good chance if that’s directed at me that I will read it and one of two things will happen. It will either mean a) that my decision to stop following you was completely justified or b) I’m glad I got out when I did. Of course, that subtweet saltfest could have been at someone else and I’m just assuming its directed at me, but if you’re going to do this to anyone who leaves quietly without trying to highlight this whole sorry episode to begin with… I still made the right choice.

MLGslapfest

However, and this is directed at anyone whom I’ve unfollowed, if you feel that there’s merit in talking to me directly and trying to sort the problem, I’m all ears. No, seriously, if you wanna talk, you know where I am. I’ve made some Class A howlers in my life over the years with good people I’d love to still be talking to, and I have been responsible for quite a few horrendous personal choices in my time. If it matters enough to you then maybe we can sit down and talk the whole thing out. I will admit I wish I could do this still with a few people that have long since departed my sphere, but life isn’t just what I want. It remains a complex set of interactive variables which you can choose to try and grasp or just use for your own ends. The choice is yours.

Everybody needs an occasional reality check from themselves. I absolutely count myself in this process, and that’s why I’ve written this post. I believe I know people well enough on Twitter now to grasp who is likely to respond well to being unfollowed, who I can expect to leave eventually of their own accord and who’s here for the long haul. Setting a 900 figure on interaction right now is doable and acceptable, but if that changes you can rest assured I will let everyone know ahead of time that stuff will alter. This is my writing tool, after all, and without a level of comfortable interaction it becomes really hard to do the tasks I have set myself up to attempt to execute. That means trust as a two way process. Needless to say, if you think I take any of these decisions lightly or without considerable thought, you really don’t know me at all, because I am well aware of the consequences of pissing people off on the Internet.

I’ve been abused, Twitter stalked, belittled and attacked before. This is no longer going to hold me back from what I want to do. If you want to discuss choices like an adult, I’m happy to do so, but for everything else my life is too short and there’s better people here who seem to be able to meet me halfway. In the end, I don’t make the decisions to leave, in many cases other people do that for me when it becomes clear that communication has stopped being what matters. 

It’s a tough job to do well, after all.

Simple Things

As today we start a new month and wonder where February went, it is time to make some proper steps forward. I have my writing plans well under control, and yesterday my mate @Broximar pointed me at something he was planning to do for March that immediately made me want to join in with. It is neither gimmicky or pointless either, in fact it is anything but. That means, of today, I’m beginning Spring Cleaning early with the 30 Day Minimalism Game.

minimalists

Broximar clued me into The Minimalists, and they do exactly what they say in their bio: live life with less. Whereas I appear to live with three quite keen consumerists in this house, I want for very little in terms of material gain as I move on in life. There’s nothing I obsess over in Wishlists, I’m not staring lovingly at domestic items to make my life better. If I’m honest, there’s some music I’d like and a few t-shirts for my collection but after that? I’m happy to do the business of de-cluttering without issue. So, starting today, here’s how things go, as described by the boys themselves:

This month, each of you must get rid of one thing on the first day. On the second, two things. Three items on the third. So forth, and so on. Anything can go! Clothes, furniture, electronics, tools, decorations, etc. Donate, sell, or trash. Whatever you do, each material possession must be out of your house—and out of your life—by midnight each day.

My first item out of the door is a real no-brainer, but the Instagram doesn’t really explain why.

I’ve removed large parts of my past from mental memory, but physical remnants are still here, and this ring is one of them. As I type this it is trashed, removed and with it comes an optimism for beginning the house Spring Clean for the year. I took the liberty whilst I was at it of sorting everything out in my jewellery boxes, one of which hasn’t been touched for several years, but contains items which have a sentimental value that remain irreplaceable. For everything else, however, there is a new sense of determination that means that I am focused on recycling, reclaiming and reusing as much as I can whilst at the same time making space: not to fill with new stuff, but to simply reduce my footprint.

I’ll do a daily Instagram of my progress, but you can expect some rumination here, especially as the daffodils are out on the School Run.

Spring is in the air, and it is time to get busy with regeneration.

Burning Heart

I am not an Expert.

I’ll grant you, sometimes I probably sound like I’m trying to be one. For the record, this is ABSOLUTELY NOT the intention. If you asked me what I’m really good at, I’d struggle to give you a representative answer. I can do a decent fist of writing, if the wind’s in my favour. I take an okay photograph. I’m awful at domestic chores, fail consistently at being both prompt and in remembering significant dates, and my cookery skills remain woeful at best (MUST FIX THAT.) I also fail at being empathetic, sympathetic, understanding and generally spend a lot of time fighting emotional states to maintain a decent illusion of coping. I am singularly, definitely, positively NOT an expert at ANYTHING.

I’m brilliant however at reacting: someone yesterday called me a ‘take no prisoners’ kind of personality and yeah, I will often not really care about how you feel if I think you’re being a Class A Twatface, I’ll just point out the stupid and move on.  However, because I know that empathy is often one of my failings (unless we know each other, then you get double) I do now attempt not to sound like anything at all when I see someone on Social media struggling with a bad time. Then, I watch other people pile in with ‘expertise’ that often makes me want to throw pot plants at them, because in my mind there is NOTHING WORSE than when you say summat like this for a bunch of people to pile in with their own ‘interpretation’ of what appears to have transpired.

planttotheface

This is the virtual equivalent of ‘if you don’t have anything useful to say, don’t say anything at all.’ I know my Grandma used to replace ‘useful’ with ‘nice’ but in the Modern world, that’s not happening on the Internet to begin with. When I watch someone say summat on their feed which is clearly meant as a explanation of their actions and nothing else, to watch other people dive in to ‘interpret’ that is, I have to say, depressing beyond belief. This, for me, is where the GIF has become a way of me being able to show interest, but not dig a hole for myself, which would often happen previously when I’d have only words to fall back on. That whole adage of ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’ is absolutely spot on: that’s why, when I’m done here, I should go find more hug GIFs because that’s what I and others need most right now. That and artistically-photographed cake, beverages, lovely serene landscapes and Mini Dogs. Lots of lovely, fluffy and perky canines to keep me sane when it all goes Pete Tong on my feed.

coffeeart

I also sense, behind a number of Avatars, a slow realisation that appearing not to care about anything but your own agenda is part of a larger issue that will start affecting more people than just Governments and large corporations. I may appear to operate a fairly 1/0 approach to caring about Randoms on certain days, but I can guarantee that’s not the case. I am passionate about everything, to the point where some days it is mentally exhausting. I’m now reining in the urge to go HAM on your Feed because I can see the difference between something that needs to be commented on and summat the person just needed to say for their own sanity. Just because someone says summat on Social media does not mean you need to respond, and just because nobody answers you does not mean nobody is listening. This vital point has somewhere been lost, and everybody is an expert at everything.

Oh, and as a reminder I’m not claiming to be an expert here.

I’m just pointing out the fucking obvious.

powerslide

Because everybody is watching everybody else, all the time, potentially nothing is missed, but we all know the truth is a long way from that reality. Some of you will get hugely aggrieved that there’s no response to what you want to talk about, or that when you need help there’s ‘nobody around’ when in reality that often equates to a few people or even a single person of interest. It is the ‘Notice me Senpai’ approach to life that assumes that at any given time, like it or not, you are the centre of the Universe. Well, of course you are, because that’s how Social media works. You make a space, you carve out a niche, and then you sell it (if you’re wanting to make a name) or you find a soapbox and stand on it (if you’re orating to the crowd) and so on, ad infinitum with all the things this platform can be used for. However, how you perceive that space is far more important than the area itself. Unless you clearly define that to other people, or make that obvious via your own actions? You will only have yourself to blame if the wheels come off, and they always will when there’s not an acceptance that definition could ever be an issue.

nobodycares

You need to be made of strong stuff to stand ‘in public’, when all is said and done. As you get older, vanity and substance should give way to acceptance and understanding, but more often than not you just get more sensitive and less capable. If I am to become an expert at anything in my life, it should be to just being what I am without allowing anyone else to dictate those limits to me. If you don’t like my attitude at first glance, maybe it isn’t just my problem to address but ours to jointly negotiate. Everybody doesn’t need to come down to your level or act as you see fit. Put the expertise on hold for a minute and don’t just think you’re capable of solving all the issues in the World, because you can’t and won’t. If someone refuses to listen? Don’t take it as an insult, and try and understand why. That’s what’s missing more than anything else right now, from every aspect of my life. People don’t want to, or they’re too tired to, or it isn’t what matters any more. That’s a big fat fucking lie.

Understanding is EVERYTHING.

Stop pretending you’re an expert, because you’re not.

Social Media Curation after Brexit and Trump

Before we Begin: Let the record state I voted to remain in the EU and would not have voted for either of the major Presidential nominations in the US of A. I am, like it or not, an Independent. Mainstream politics gives me nothing at all, on most days, and I won’t lie to you from the get-go. I can respect those who have a strong leaning to either left or right, if they will respect me in turn. With that out of the way?

shitsonfireyo


Your social media is a mess right now.
Don’t try and pretend it’s not. I gave up Facebook a long time ago, for reasons that would probably fill several Blog posts, but I’d not do without Twitter in these days of political uncertainty and mass hysteria. It’s a vital writing tool and barometer for what’s happening in the Real World (TM) and as a result, it occurs to me I need a new curation policy. So, here’s where I’m going in the weeks ahead.

ONE:
Follow more People

Hang on, what did you say?

garbage_chan

This is NOT the moment when you denounce anyone who didn’t vote the way you did. It is also absolutely not the time to remove everyone from your friends list who’s ‘having a moment’ This is when you remember that others are different to you and deal with grief/anger/disbelief/orange better/worse than you depending on a bazillion factors you won’t ever truly grasp. What you really need to be doing is finding voices right now that help, not switching people off.

I am assuming that if you’ve managed to remain on Twitter to begin with, you’re coping okay. Lots of people I know who aren’t close to dealing have vanished from social media completely and you know what? I really don’t blame a single one of them. Post Brexit (which is where all this began for me) it was a struggle, even when my feed wasn’t particularly full of people discussing the issues. Broadcast news was just too painful to consume. The sensible people who know how they react to stress will be doing just that. Reacting for others is chucking out all the dead wood and redefining parameters. All these approaches are equally valid.

ziegler

However, what this is the absolute best time for is finding new people to listen to. If you wish to fill your feed with people who only say what you want to hear, who am I to dispute this choice, but this is the moment where I state that I’ve always believed that the best way to learn is through conflict [*] and that means listening to voices that advocate different viewpoints, but aren’t attacking you. What you need right now aren’t just independent thinkers either: just because someone shares an outlook that isn’t yours, doesn’t mean you’ll not learn anything from them. What I’m finding useful right now is the stuff third parties are throwing into my timeline, what other followers are reading themselves and considering useful or helpful to pass on. Curation means just that, reading and understanding the relevance of your source material.

So, maybe this is the moment to follow some people who you’d not normally read but are making you think, because right now what we need is more thought and less throwing shit at each other.

TWO:
Make Sensible Judgements

Cant-Handle-The-Science-Reaction-Gif.gif

The automatic first reaction in this immediate response is required world of ours is, for a lot of you right now, quite attractive, because if you can’t cope, just cut conflict out. I know how upsetting it can be, for instance, to watch someone do the RL equivalent of give you the finger and then vanish after you posted what you thought was a pretty good gag that helped you cope and at the same time helped others deal with the issues. I care about a lot of people on my feed a lot more than I suspect they even realise, because diversity is what keeps this planet spinning (gravity and science notwithstanding) and I’ve already done this. The parallels between the weeks post-Brexit and the US Elections made me feel last night as if I’d ended up in ‘Groundhog Day’ When the safety pin posts started popping up?

had-enough-gif

The point here is simple. There are tools to make choices on Twitter: this may not be the moment just to reach for the block, but it could well be the time to go Private. If you want to just rant and not care, a lock is great but please bear in mind that it might not have the effect you wanted. To the person I force unfollowed because of just this? I love you’re passionate about your politics, but I’m sorry, I am not. As we no longer have a meaningful discussion about anything, and you don’t really interact with me at all any more? I don’t think this will be a terrible loss for either of us. If you’re not prepared to share yourself publicly at a time when I feel that’s more important than anything else? It is time for us to go our separate ways.

That brings us nicely to the other side of this particular coin.

THREE:
Pick your Platform

catopenbox.gif

I would have left Twitter a very long time ago if I’d not found Tweetdeck. This will be familiar to Mac users as a stand alone programme (and there is a PC version) but I run mine in a browser and have done for quite some time. The ‘official’ software provided on both web and phone are optimised to sell you shit and take liberties with the way you consume content, in the hope it will make the company money. Sorry, Twitter, but not ever gonna happen, and so I curate with software at entry. That means Tweetdeck (and ColorDeck) in Chrome (DON’T JUDGE ME) and Tweetbot on my Fruitphone/Tablet because I’d rather pay money for someone to remove ads than allow people to throw them at me.

Both these platforms allow me to mute on multiple levels, and this has become important in the way I deal with both noise and aggravation. It’s akin to having a time out, the Naughty Step or Boarding School to discipline your kids with, and knowing the appropriate use for them all. I can mute someone as a precursor to deciding whether I unfollow or not, or simply mute them and walk away. For the trolls and the violent the block exists, though I will admit that I took all of my blocks off a month or so ago. Tweetdeck allows muting on both keywords and users, so this then allows me to filter specific noise until I’m able to cope… so yes, you could just filter out Trump or Brexit and leave everything else as it was.

derogatory

A block now for me is the equivalent of turning my back, and putting fingers in my ears. I don’t want to hear you. If I just have a mute operating there’s a good chance I’m still listening, I just cut out the top level treble because it’s making my ears ring, but for some people I feel that spending the rest of my life mad with them for just being what they are isn’t really doing anybody any favours, including myself. So now, I practice Safe Blocks to stop me going insane, contracting stupid and ending up with unwanted friendships where I know that it’s more about them than it will ever be me. That means that the software I use matters almost as much as the words that get written.

FOUR
Make It Count

fuckingtight.gif

All the tools in the world are pretty much pointless if you don’t learn how to use them. However, and this is more important, you gotta grasp how much it matters to even bother. I can poach an egg, but to create a beautiful and delicious Eggs Benedict takes practice, skill and application, and all of those things ultimately matter because any idiot can poach an egg. If you are determined to not accept the World as a vast, diverse and often frightening place? That’s an issue no amount of consumption of facts with whatever bias will ever solve, and places the responsibility squarely in your lap. Not your parents, or your Pastor or even your spouse… but YOU.

I’ve watched the people in my timeline who’ve quite rightly posted retweets from people who are now beginning to wake up to the fact that there may be colour lines, or political leanings, but if you’re angry and start lashing out that’s wrong, whatever side you support. Yes, anger is a part of the grief process, but if you’re choosing to do that on social media? You’re using this platform to make a point, with an audience. Don’t get surprised if people don’t react the way you expect or hope as a result, because this isn’t about you, and ultimately if you’re projecting anger on Twitter right now, you’re absolutely making it just about yourself.

feelings.gif

If you need help to deal with things, find people that you know care, and ask them.

FIVE
Let it Go

there-it-goes-the-last-fuck-i-give

I know it hurts that you lost. Trust me, I absolutely know how devastating it is to watch a bunch of liars and con artists win a vote [**] They didn’t however do this, people did. The vote was won by people who aren’t you. That’s the biggest thing to grasp in all of this, that however much you hate everybody else and the people who seem to have ruined your world? Those people were there yesterday. They existed before the vote happened. Most importantly of all, they’d been around YOUR ENTIRE LIFE, but you only just grasped they’ll be running your Country.

Social media curation will never prepare you for the horror of grasping your own mortal existence. I’m afraid for that, you are on your own. However, what it does afford you is the opportunity to shape the world around you in a manner so you can adequately cope with what is thrown at you and for that I cannot make this last point enough. All the curation in the World is utterly pointless if you don’t learn. Don’t carry around anger and hate. Love is really very important right now, for so many reasons, and especially if you are a parent. Teach the next generation well. Never use the Boarding School option, because after that you’ve got nowhere else to go.

Right now, everybody needs to learn more tolerance and understanding.

BOTH SIDES, not just theirs.


Mostly, in all of this chaos, try and find yourself a place of peace, at least once a day. I have exercise, you could read a book or listen to music. Effectively the World is exactly the same as it was last Saturday, except we all drive ourselves a little closer to death in more painful and pointless ways. Take a moment, and just remember the good amongst the bad.

Me, I’ll be off for a cuppa before I head for the Gym <3


[*] Other learning methods are available. Please choose carefully.
[**] Other outlooks are available, yet not nearly as derogatory for humorous purposes.