Won’t get Fooled Again

Anyone with a massive platform, potentially reaching millions of people, should by definition have a duty of care towards objectivity. We all know, because it is apparent on a daily basis, that everyone is entitled to an opinion. That’s why programmes like BBC’s ‘Question Time’ have existed for many years, to allow people an opportunity to say what they feel in a manner that is not available anywhere else.

Except, as institutions such as the BBC and major newspapers have remained staunchly intractable basions of a particular approach to news and current affairs, the world around them has altered, often beyond recognition. Offering opinion is now open season for anybody with some brain cells and the ability to manipulate Social media. Facts, more and more, appear to be in short supply.

Reality, of course, sits somewhere between both schools.

If you understand the concept of cognitive ease, then you’ll also grasp why stuff like the Question Time video is potentially very dangerous indeed. I’m seeing shares on the back not of what the woman is saying but on how the guy next to her reacts: yes, that’s a good thing, but the point of the woman’s message isn’t silenced or removed. If you did, it would obviously make no sense as to why the reaction exists.

Fake news works on the concept that if you hear something enough times (the body temperature of a chicken is 41 degrees) then actual validity becomes irrelevant. If that message is broadcast by a television station you trust? Yeah, you’ll end up assuming this is reality. It’s the reason why if you’re not following at least five different news outlets on Social media, you really are laying yourself open to be manipulated.

At some point, like it or not, you will have to start thinking about what you consume.

Just as it is vital to grasp what goes into your body via nutrition, what you read and watch will (like it or not) have the equivalent affect on your brain. If you cannot trust that once-impartial sources (such as TV, newspapers and media personalities) will remain that way, it becomes up to work out when manipulation could take place. In some cases, fortunately for us, that becomes quite easy to grasp.

However, those lines blur when institutions like the BBC pick an obviously sensationalist moment of their own output, with multiple layers of narrative and visual complexity, with which to effectively advertise their own content. Remember kids, that’s one of the major reasons these platforms exist, as advertising mediums. The BBC’s a business, which the UK public partially fund. We can ignore these moments and then, unsurprisingly, they will vanish.

Except of course you’ll have forgotten about this by next week… or will you?

Carrying more information is not the answer to your issues with modern life, despite what some people might suggest to the contrary. What will matter most, going forward, is an ability to know what should be saved and what can be put away, whilst most importantly what you really don’t need in your brain at all. I don’t need xenophobia, hatred, anger or bitterness. None of those things serve any purpose to me.

Worrying obsessively is a character fault that is proving harder to remove, but understanding what I can and can’t influence is a decent start. If I choose NOT to retweet the Question Time video, I am not retweeting hate. I’m not using somebody else’s panic and fear as an example. I am most certainly not contributing to a pile on which wouldn’t be necessary if the broadcaster had chosen just to leave that clip alone.

They picked it for a very particular reason, and everybody fell for it.

thatsbait

Telling other people they’re idiots will undoubtedly place you on a hiding to nothing, but every time something like this surfaces, the same people will make the point. The same organisations are to blame, time and again. It doesn’t make everybody who works for them either bad or wrong, but it does cast a pretty poor light on those who are clearly not capable of moving with the times.

It’s quite easy to know when you’re being manipulated on Social media: learn the signs, look for the patterns, and remember the most important rule of all: never react to anything before you’re awake. These platforms rely on instantaneous, knee-jerk indignation to remain functional. You are much better than that. There are more helpful things to be doing with your time than fuelling someone else’s advertising strategy.

Go look at some GIFs of fluffy animals instead.

COMMENT

Good Enough

You and I both know how this works: the rando who pops up from someone else’s Followers when that pithy Tweet you were quite proud of gets retweeted and HATES YOU. You’re just WRONG and that’s the end of it. Forget reasonable discourse, it’s never happening, and the least you can hope for is to escape without being dogpiled. The answer is simple: block. Don’t discuss it in committee, press the button and admit defeat.

Except, more and more, I block people who unfollow me, so if they want to come back they’ll need to make another account. This might seem a bit severe, but it really isn’t. That whole ‘Twitter appears to have unfollowed you’ bug never existed, but the force-unfollow is one of the oldest tricks in any pro Tweeting arsenal. Some people you keep on the list but mute for a quiet life. We all know the rules.

If you don’t want to listen now, I doubt you’ll ever want to listen at all.

embarassing

The block also means that if someone changes their account name, you’re still blocking them regardless, which is really useful for those creepy dudes who just say they’re mates when in reality they’re pretending you’re in a relationship with them. These are the perils of modern living, of course, where at least a working knowledge of basic psychology is required in order to make it through a working day unscathed.

Occasionally, a fight is worth your time, but it is an awful lot to do with knowing who’s potentially receptive or not. I’ve garnered a fair few follows from that kind of initial interaction, but now would certainly never use it as a means to make myself known. There are easier and less stressful ways and means to find friends than to poke them with virtual pointy sticks. The days of liking a good scrap are a memory.

Not distant yet, but certainly getting there.

youknowwhen

There are better things to do with my time now, that much is apparent. A confidence is emerging that doesn’t need me to use social media as much as was previously the case. Sure, it’s still fun to dip in and out of, but I should never be beholden to the faceless. The only way true, lasting progress is made is when I’m able to feel confident that what’s being done is the right path to walk, and right now it so totally is.

Block, and admit defeat.

Material Girl

This PC is many MANY years old and finally I have realised it needs replacing. As my ethical standpoint has issue with buying such things new, I’ve got a reconditioned, older machine waiting for the weekend so that things can be swapped over with the minimum of fuss. It means watching videos on my machine will become viable again, which I miss greatly. A tablet is fine, but bigger screen = WIN.

Whilst we’re waiting for the weekend to turn up, a lot of stuff seems to be causing outrage of late. Gaming companies, police forces, football crowds, awards for books… all of these have caused Outrage Culture to enter my timeline. Once it would have been easy to be Outraged, because there was a right answer and a wrong answer and never the twain would meet.

Life these days however is not so simple.

are you joking.gif

It’s never been simple, of course, and seeing the world in grey-scale is, apart from being aesthetically far more pleasing, simplest means by which everything is rationalised. However, in the last few days, something important has altered in my brain. In it’s simplest form, the process works like this:

  1. Read contentious opinion on Twitter
  2. Allow myself to knee-jerk a reaction IN PRIVATE
  3. After doing so, DO SOMETHING ELSE not related to thing that was totally engrossing my mind at Step 2
  4. Completely forget about the contentious thing whilst doing summat I enjoy/gain personal satisfaction from or is useful for someone else’s benefit AND STOP THINKING ABOUT STEP TWO COMPLETELY
  5. Return to Twitter where contention continues, apparently unabated
  6. Give a reasonable opinion based on having had time to allow personal contention a chance to dissipate

stewartdoublefingers

What’s changed since last week? Step 4 didn’t exist. I knew I was getting sad last week, that pressure from the last couple of months was not being properly dealt with. The answer normally would be to throw myself into some pettiness online, or get obsessed with the current Outrage du Jour but not any more. I’m done with allowing others the opportunity to sour my mood. This girl finally got a clue, has other was to fill her days.

It will also provide some important content for my writing blog, which is really what matters more going forward. Before that however I have to work out how to get my D Drive out of this machine and into the new one, whilst ensuring nothing important is lost during transit. I know there are tools for this, but that process always concerns me slightly until everything is working smoothly again…

I’ll appeal for luck when the time comes.

Better Living Through Chemistry

Let us begin this week correctly.

This has been an earworm since my husband left hospital, so putting it here (hopefully) might finally release the pain of repetition, though I doubt it. There is a phenomenal amount of Real Life Gubbins to achieve today, and I have the uncomfortable feeling my PC hard drive is close to failure. As a result, this morning will also be spent ensuring I have a backup of everything important somewhere else.

After that? New calendars on the wall, new goals to achieve. A major collection from last year gets a re-write. I’m going to start a new one. There’s a plan for NaNoWriMo that this year I may actually be able to stick to along with everything else, if the planning will support it. That’s the key, in all of this. Proper organisation will win the day, it just has to start now and be executed thoroughly.

I think that means I’m gonna stop playing games again for a while.

fuckthis

I came back before the holiday to play Warcraft which I’d not touched since before Christmas. Now I’ll admit that the urge to log on every day is rapidly diminishing, mostly because of the effort required to get what I want. There are no quick fixes any more, of course you have to work, and that time is better used doing other stuff. The next iteration of the game will be announced next month, and then we’ll see where we are.

Until then, what matters more than online satisfaction is real life progress.

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 .

listen.gif

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.

dota_ragequit.gif

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.

factsvopinions.gif

John’s point is spot on, and it goes both ways: Opinions are NOT Facts. 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…

notinterested.gif

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. If you’re solid and well-adjusted, Twitter’s just a diary. 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: 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.

Sunrise

DAY 3: I’m a  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 Internet 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. 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.