Is There Anybody Out There?

It was three months ago now that I got lucky enough to be named as a contest winner by the Poetry Society. Ever since then, it’s easy to work out who on my friend’s list wasn’t aware of the fact. There’ll be a retweet of my pinned post (presumably as they went to my profile after an absence) normally followed by a couple of other retweets of notable stuff. It happened twice yesterday, and that dissemination of current thoughts caused, for the second time in less than a week, an interesting crossover of disparate lives.

It has set me thinking this morning about who is actually listening .


Conflict can be quite difficult to instigate, if truth be told. You might have a five digit follower count but if the majority of those people don’t give a fuck over your latest personal crusade, it can be quite hard to motivate your ‘army’ into battle. There’s a lot of luck involved in viral involvement too: I didn’t realise this for a while, but there’s entire networks of users whose sole task in life is to favourite and retweet each other in the hope that one post gets the legs required to become a trend.

This was also the principle behind an abortive Twitter app I was using a while back: social media is a game, and therefore can be flipped and resold just as is the case in the Real World. Speculation with words however is a lot less predictable after a certain point: undoubtedly there are levels of success, but absolutely nothing beats the unscripted, unscheduled rant or the brilliant piece of visual gold that turns the normal and mundane into a viral sensation.


The concept of ‘virtual stock’ has already been gamed to within an inch of it’s life: Klout and all the other variants of online kudos only work if you’re prepared to completely buy into the lifestyle. For someone like me who won’t touch Facebook ever again, there’s no point in even bothering with any of this stuff regardless. I’ve already burnt the all-access bridge. Instagram as a result is just a lovely place to post pictures. Twitter’s usefulness remains as research tool and chat channel long before brands or products are involved.

Looking at how little people actually read about my stuff isn’t a surprise or disappointment, its completely normal. In fact, in that regard I’m really quite pleased, because it means that there’s nobody potentially to worry about in terms of stalking or compulsive behaviour. Right now, obsession with self is abundantly and often painfully obvious, which means that the best tool when dealing with contention is undoubtedly silence.

It is very tempting as a social media user to, the moment people pop up and lay contention to your assertions, to have a rage at them. In fact, the more I think about it, the more likely it is that there’s a subset of people for whom this platform’s sole task is to facilitate such anger. Any opportunity to remind your readership how ignorant other people are, or to reinforce how smart and clearly enlightened you are compared with others is seized with often celebratory glee.

That’s all well and good, but there’s a crucial point that is perennially overlooked: people get the right to do this. No, this isn’t a free speech rant, it’s just a fact. If you disagree, that’s perfectly fine. If 1000 other people all weigh in with likes that you disagree, also great, but without the OP deciding to argue the point? There’s nothing. It’s just a statement. If your thought is fundamentally harmful or based on untruths, expect there to be a bit more friction.

It’s that whole thing about Opinions and Facts all over again.


John’s point is spot on, and it goes both ways: Opinions are NOT Facts.ย However much you want to argue that someone clearly doesn’t understand how you feel and therefore you must be right as a result, that’s not how this works. It’s not how ANY of this works. People can say stuff, and unless they have the facts to back it up, it remains simply an opinion. You can disagree all you like, but it won’t ever be an argument unless that other person chooses to make it one.

It is why the silence of one person on my timeline right now speaks volumes. If you know you’re wrong, keep quiet. If you don’t want to start an argument when provoked, keep quiet. I think of all the famous people who probably voraciously ingest social media using aliases all the time but would never in a million years use it as their real selves. I think of those with interesting enough lives to not even need it. Then there’s consideration of those who do use it without the first clue of how to protect themselves and others, and there’s a rabbit hole you may never emerge from…


Detaching yourself from immersive things can be hard. Cultivating the personality of ‘someone has made a mistake on the Internet and I must fix it’ mindset’s really tough too, because if there’s enough of a reciprocal relationship going on between you and it, reality will inevitably warp around the virtual with far more force. Undoubtedly that’s because most of us, in one way or another, are here to escape something.ย If you’re solid and well-adjusted, Twitter’s just a diary.ย Not your agony aunt or your soapbox. Definitely not a place for sexytimes, absolutely not as useful as being outside.

How you use this place isn’t about who’s really listening, its all to do with how it fits into an extremely subjective notion of reality. That means for the vast majority of people you read, you post, that’s all it is. For every person who emotionally invests too much, there’s another just staring at people’s genitalia for kicks. What you do with content’s irrelevant, until you break laws. In ten years from now a lot of people will wish they never came here, and freedom will look an awful lot different than it does now.

The blame for those changes will be everybody’s to shoulder.

Not a Job

Day 7:ย Seriously, it’s only been a WEEK???

Giving blood feels like several months ago, not gonna lie, only a faint scar reminds yup, still recovering. Cycling has been a horrible, stressful bag of emotional stress as a result and today, after five hours kip (see the writing blog) there is no energy for anything except what’s on the Urgent List. Yes, one of those exists. I will knock off all outstanding gubbins, then throw myself on the sofa because if dinner is gonna be cooked from scratch, there needs to be more active consciousness than currently exists.

Time to go for simple.

All the decorations are still in the front room too, and one thing that should be done is to get them across the road to the garage so the front room is clear for YOGA. Gonna try at least once a week, maybe more, starting with my old MTV Yoga DVD before quite possibly finding summat better on YouTube. That’s what it’s there for, right?

Once there’s been a decent night’s kip we’ll get back on TOP QUALITY CONTENT.


DAY 3:ย I’m aย  recovering addict, trying my best not to sound like an evangelist. It’s a tough ask, some days, especially when the weight of evidence shows how gullible I was. Companies are to blame for feeding addiction, and in due course one can only hope common sense will prevail… but don’t bet on that. However, if as individuals we are unable to discern truth in our own shortcomings and failings, all is lost.

This, in a certain light, utterly is confirmation bias at work. Someone else (as a result of my flagrant disregard of The Community) is already indignantly decrying this attack on freedom of choice, and that’s absolutely fine. However, if you continue to throw money at companies whose entire modus operandi is to get you to do just that, stop complaining they don’t cater to your tastes. That’s when you take your money away and go elsewhere. No really, that’s how it should work.

If it doesn’t…? Who has the problem here, exactly?

I do love my gaming friends. Some have moved on, others staunchly remain wedded to their MMO’s of choice and all of them wear gaming as a badge of honour. It is how you know if someone’s gonna grasp your point of view or not: meeting gamers makes a ton of metaphors applicable in any conversation. It’s the difference between awkward and relaxed, almost instantly.

Currently I have a History of the Internetย poetry collection under submission and once it is summarily rejected (because half the references will be lost on people judging) I will go about getting it published myself.ย This is what I am. Like it or not, good or bad, there is never the means to separate gamer from woman. It’s why indignation rises over cheap stereotyping, that this same stupid, pointless rhetoric hasn’t gone away for the 40 years I’ve played.

This whole ridiculous argument isn’t about women being good at games, it’s about women being good at ANYTHING and part of me wants that association to be 360 No Scoped back into the 8 bit age. I don’t fucking care how good or bad I am, I deserve the right to play unchallenged.

This is a fundamental problem with Humanity that really should have been fixed by now.

Rejecting a space which is specifically designated as one in which performers may do as they wish is artistically limiting, Kanye.

You need to listen to more people, mate.

Would I Lie to You

Fake news, as has been discussed at length, is quite a thing around sections of the internet. However, of late I’m also seeing a rather depressing trend towards what can only be called ‘pseudo fake news’ of which this video is a prime example. The scenario is simple: let’s expose other people’s stupidity, make fun of them, and then package it up in video form as entertainment. It’s like Jackass for people who don’t really like to get physically hurt, but feel emotional distress is a ton of fun.

I find it particularly distressing as I forget basic stuff, a lot. Left and right is confusing enough to me that I only managed to pass my driving test by writing it on my shoes. Maths makes my head hurt, learning sequences of moves in the Gym is often more exhausting than the exercise… and the list goes on. The fact that people are now happy, almost gleeful to admit they have gaps in their knowledge and then allow other people to film themselves proving that point? Well, it makes sense, when you not only grasp the science, but understand a desire to be more than we already are.

I tend to kop a lot of flack in my house for my lack ofย schadenfreude, but honestly there are more entertaining things to laugh at. I suppose too it is because when other people talk about things and there is no knowledge of what it is that’s being discussed, there’s a feeling ‘well, maybe I am the stupid one.’ Except, the fact remains that knowing everything isn’t how this works.ย I’m an awful cook, and have never grasped the basics. I had to double check what sunny side up meant.

This made me think for lots of reasons, and then made me wonder whether the whole thing was staged. Are these guys actors? Did they get paid for their time? Then I realised that the whole thing was being overthought and it was time for a cuppa. However, if I look at the kind of dross that my husband wades through on his Facebook page, there’s not really much difference between that and this, and I can do better with what’s watched. If I fancy mindless distraction, I’ll go for a run instead.

If nobody watched this shit, there’d be no market for it overnight.

Shake it Off

On the way to School this morning, the youngest got quite emotional over some fan-art that had been drawn for her. It’s something that has happened to me a couple of times in the past, but now I pay for other people to draw me for the headers because, let’s be honest, flattery is a very emotive subject. What is awe in one person’s mind can often become discomfort in another’s. It’s like the aboriginal fear of having a picture taken: your soul is captured without permission, and can never be salvaged.

I heard a theory today that the key to reliable knowledge is constant self-doubt. Just because something was right and true a year ago does not mean that is the case today. The almost continuous flood of online information allows us to re-assess what matters and what doesn’t, and influences are a constant and never-ending means by which the environment around us is redefined. All it needs is someone to come along and upset the apple-cart of familiarity and BOOM the world view changes forever.

I’ve spent a portion of my life using pedantry as a defence mechanism. Now it’s been elevated to a spectator sport, means by which cheap views can be garnered and indignation ignited. It is also the catalyst for an increasing number of Fandoms to spontaneously combust/implode/explode depending on the particular revelations presented. Some are welcome, cleansing fires, whilst others are the worst kind of dumpster trash.

My daughter’s advice to me was amazingly simple this morning: just be nice and do stuff for other people.ย After decades of being worn down to smooth, painless interactions where nobody gets hurt because no-one actually gives any part of themselves in the process, the concept of offering myself to the current Internet is, let it be said, quite a frightening prospect. However, that’s really how this works. You gotta get out there and interact, or else how else does anything change?

The problem, of course, is that there is no control over outcomes in the Wild West of unsolicited interaction. It is why so many people block and mute the inopportune out of their feeds, why Discords are the new Forums where you only invite who you want to talk to, and that everybody tries on certain days to shut out the bad news when actually, it needs to be heard. I appreciate reasoning for those people who leave when the going gets tough, but at some point, somewhere, a stand is required.

Day Two of the New Regime therefore is asking people who are reading this who’d like to develop dialogues to leave a comment. My daughter might argue I’m trying to hard by encouraging people to respond but honestly, this is the only means by which progress takes place. To encourage this, your comment will now instantly appear when posted, I’ve taken screening off for the first time in years.

Let’s see who is listening…

Somebody that I Used to Know

There has been very little time to sit and consider the achievement of last week until now. I will be applying for the Ballot for the 46 when it is open, with no desire at all to complete the 100. Knowing what’s involved, having had to deal with the virtual versions of both hills, that’s not what will ever be considered enjoyable. I’m not sure a lot of the 46 was that much fun in the rain, but it would be a lie to say the overall experience wasn’t satisfying. Next time however I’m determined to complete the thing on more than three hours sleep.

Sitting here in a foreign country, this is the first opportunity there’s been for a while to think generally away from what counts as normal life since before I started race training. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that on my return there will be much more of the same, with a probable increase in frequency: not because there needs to be improvement, but because there’s more enjoyment whilst doing that than was previously realised. Exercise has stopped simply being for a purpose, and has evolved into a genuine form of relaxation, which may sound odd, but is 100% accurate.


There are other changes already being formulated too: my working space is going to alter (and reduce) plus there are thoughts forming that might relocate me completely. The benefit of going away, ultimately, is to allow readjustment of everything that surrounds, and it would be a foolish person (in my mind) that did not attempt some form of reinvention at least on a yearly basis. So, on our return (after a break with its fair share of drama) it feels only right and proper to start as I mean to go on.

The other key to this shift will not be to go out and buy new stuff to fill this space, but recycle what already exists in the house. There is plenty of desk space available to move and shift, and I’m not looking for anything sparkly or ‘new’ to work with. It will be a challenge of an ability to creatively recycle, and that’s something that appeals to a brain which is beginning to grasp that the future isn’t about a relentless process of continual consumption. There are some issues left to address at home too, it would be lovely to try and fix as many as possible in the months that follow, and those within my grasp will be summarily addressed.


This is a much needed holiday. When I get back, the hard work will begin again, but with renewed enthusiasm.

Strange Days

About once a week I think, perhaps a bit less, someone who I know is fairly prolific on Social media will vanish. If they’re a sensible type, there’ll often be a prรฉcis to this along the lines of ‘I need to take a break.’ย It is becoming the norm, rather than an exception, and denotes that an individual has, quite sensibly, grasped how much of a controlling influence this medium can become. There’s a reason you take rest days in exercise, can’t eat the same junk food for months on end without at least injecting some healthy food groups. Everything in excess is dangerous.


However, this may not help solve that persistent unhappiness that’s experienced via Global group interaction. Social media is neither soft drug nor cranial stimulant. It is the equivalent of talking to someone for an hour whilst simultaneously doing something you either love, hate or really aren’t that fussed about. If you’re in a bad place, there’s a 50/50 chance it won’t improve your mood, and then you have another important decision to make. Should you rely constantly on virtual encouragement when, if the power went out, you really would be on your own?

Why do I see people constantly using it as a crutch when in reality a ball and chain is the more realistic metaphor?


There’s the key: appearance.ย What you see as one thing is completely different to someone else.ย That’s why we no longer just have glasses of water in the future, you’re either full or empty and let that be a lesson to you, young lady.ย Do NOT stand in public places and decry anybody else’s opinions as shonky, lest ye be judged as shonky yourself, for the future is being listened to only if your follower count is over 9000 and you’re a registered Opinion Haver.ย We are approaching the last days of independent thought: algorithms are already blocking your Tweets as noise to the people you really care about. They’re already leaving Social medias because grown men can get them the sack just by having a Reddit group.

Seriously, this is the future of the Internet?


We dodged the bullet in Europe in the last week over copyright, but they’re already reloading the gun. People in the US are already seeing their net being throttled and metered: it is just the beginning. We will look back on these glory day in a decade’s time (assuming we’re all still here of course) and wish we’d stopped wanking amongst ourselves far sooner. This will be a place where you need to pay for an opinion, and then negotiate the various paywalls in order to have any chance of being heard. If you want emotional support from friends, you can bet it will come with a fee and conditions.

The Data Apocalypse is coming: don’t say you were not suitably forewarned.