Lies

This is a scheduled announcement that when you’ve been on the Internet as long as I have, you’ve seen an awful lot of stupid shit. In some cases, you were there the first time someone was dumb enough to try something, it got totally forgotten, and now the same old rubbish is being recycled again (and again and again).

Example: I’ve seen the ‘I forced a bot to watch X’ meme a few times now, each with a different subject matter. It’s a great means by which a comedy writer can eke out exposure and flex their social media skills. Good luck to them all, I say, this is a good use of the medium. It’s only the equivalent of that picture of the guy with the pretty girl, staring at another (clearly prettier) girl and the dichotomy that creates in our subconsciousnesses. It’s known as the DISTRACTED BOYFRIEND meme.

Memes are what makes the Internet tolerable. They are the distraction many of us crave in these dark, ugly times. It is also by far the best means to make information stick. It is no wonder therefore that certain commentators, who are incapable of altering the collision course this country appears to have adopted with it’s own self destruction, are using similar tactics to create a picture which is, like it or not, utterly false.

I’m seeing a lot of stuff like this of late: high-profile personalities ‘bigging up’ the fact that once upon a time, this country was fantastic, and it clearly isn’t that way any more, and really, it’s beginning to piss me right off. There are two reasons for this. The first one, perhaps unsurprisingly is that it’s just not true. The Olympics did not somehow make this country a better place to live in. Yeah they were great, and the legacy’s been awesome, but truth remains the UK was shit beforehand too. 

The second one’s more insidious: this isn’t meant as a means to get people encouraged to do anything about the situation, it’s just for views, to create an illusion of participation and interest. The fact that other people don’t get this remains a mystery to me, until I look at a certain type of user on my own feed. They’re the one’s who don’t ever contribute anything of value to any conversation, but try and make you react in order to feed their own attention-seeking status.

If you go look at your feed, you’ll know who I’m talking about.

Occasionally, you have to assume some of the stuff spouted online is stated in total ignorance of what actually takes place online, this tweet being a case in point. I know that this definition has become a slogan and is being used quite extensively by a group of trans-exclusionary radical feminists. I can only assume that someone in Government would do their homework when receiving a gift such as this… that’s how this works, right?

On Social media, a lot of very stupid stuff happens. Most is easily corrected with retraction and apology… except that rarely ever happens. If you’re using your account to talk AT people and not TO them, you are part of the problem. Just being online, posting things, or talking to yourself in the hope people respond… what are you contributing? What’s even worse, of course, is when people respond and you don’t. You’re not in a conversation when that happens. You’re lecturing.

No good comes of discourse that is ultimately one-sided.

Tubthumping

This morning’s earworm (and blog title) are largely self-explanatory:

Why is this your earworm, Sarah?

The e-mail came late, because (presumably) the people running the contest have day jobs making this very much an evening task. It was the first time in nearly two years I got some tension/drama too, because to find out whether I’d been long-listed or not meant a click through to a website. Actually, of everything I’ve failed at thus far, this felt the most professional. This then led me to be looking at Twitter when somebody else joyfully announced they’d been long-listed for another contest, which clearly I’ve not won either.

I mentioned to Julia the last time I saw her that this weekend had the potential to be rough, because March 1st clearly is when lots of people wake up properly after Christmas and the wheels of competitive industry start properly grinding for the year. It meant that yesterday I added FOUR new potential means of failure to my Submissions Deadlines calendar. It became apparent a few months ago I need a visual list of dates, or else I just forget what matters. Now I have it, June’s already packed.

Instead of taking March completely off (it transpires a few days of not thinking too hard was all I really needed) I’ve scheduled 4 poems and a short story, plus a proposal for becoming a Poet in Residence. On top of that there’s a second proposal to send off tomorrow on top of the fiction project which, amazingly, seems to be moving under its own steam fairly well. That’s being earmarked as complete before one of my new June cut-off points.

What this month will be remembered for is learning the next skill level of ‘Multi-Function Organisation’ because the second Twitter account really has become a godsend. There’s also, very crucially, an emergent mental ability to be able to switch between two very distinct worlds. It’s a bit of a shock when they suddenly overlap, but the fact they do is a salutatory reminder of how small a world this really is. If you know creatives, there’s a good chance that overlaps exist in circles of association even you weren’t aware of.

That means, that like it or not, knowing when to keep quiet is a life skill I really need to keep practising. It also meant an apology was sent last night via email that many would consider unnecessary, but I still believe was essential. A lot has happened in the last 24 hours that I’m still attempting to process. How that affects things going forward is still unclear, but there’s an awful lot to think about. Good public conduct is essential as a professional. Knowing who’s reading is also fairly important to the responses you then present.

Nobody said any of this was going to be easy.

Run for Home

The last couple of days have shown that even if I’m not able to lift heavy shit for a while, my legs still work fine, and I can continue to train on the bike without (too many) issues. Therefore, this morning I entered my first group event on Zwift.

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The first item of note here is that this is not a race against anybody but yourself. I can tell you for a fact that a bunch of people did make it a race, at speeds that frankly I’d be lucky to maintain for a minute, let alone ninety. There’s an important fact to be registered too, whilst we’re here: cheating a cycling simulator by lying about your weight and power in order to increase speed, or using other means to drive your trainer to give the impression Bradley Wiggins is a slowpoke… who are you fooling, exactly? Cheating a virtual game’s a waste of time in exactly the same way cheating is wank everywhere else. You don’t get to go and cry in front of the cameras as catharsis either. Seriously, nobody cares.

For me, this is the longest I’ve ever cycled virtually, and it has taught a lot about how physical strength has improved in the last three months.

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The killer was there’s a hill (actually a volcano because FIERY DOOM IS BEST DOOM) in this route, twice: brain and legs did it once and then decided between them that the second time would be easier, albeit about thirty seconds slower. I used gears effectively, rested between the hard bits, and as there was enough in the tank left to sprint for the line there’s the understanding that pacing rides is beginning to become a habit. Once it became obvious that I’d be doing the whole thing alone, too, I stopped stressing about other people.

Mr Alt was a star and stayed with me for the first climb, before pushing up to finish a very impressive 75th (the field ended up as 180 people) He’s taught me a huge amount around gearing and planning hills, all of which was massively useful this morning. I could find myself wanting to do that route as enjoyment, once I’m able to hang onto both handlebars and stop worrying about weight on my left arm. Before, that gradient of hill would be a concern. Now, I’m wondering how much time I could take off the climb. There’s a change from three months ago.

I have two benchmarks to hit in terms of recovery that matter far more than being able to lift again. I want to be able to stick left index finger in my mouth, and put up my own hair. Once those two things are possible, I’m honestly not fussed how long it takes to get everything else up to scratch. I’d also like the pain in my right thumb to bugger off too, and then we can never be that fucking stupid and trip over our own feet again.

I blame BST for all this stupidity. LOOKING AT YOU GREENWICH.

Bang Bang :: Day 1

I slept. It wasn’t great, but with arm on a pillow, it was doable. I was up at 6.30 and everybody made it out, and after that, there were two hours extra kip. I’m taking paracetamol, nothing stronger. There’s a bag of frozen onions doing sterling work as an icepack in 30-minute bursts, and the swelling is going down. The biggest problem right now is wrists and thumbs.

So much of life is around digit and wrist mobility: opening and closing stuff, gathering up my hair, putting on clothes. This next week will be an education and is gonna end up in a fiction at some point, because all of this is good practical research. Now all I need is actual movement back, and we’re golden. Even without the painkillers, it’s less stressful than yesterday.

Let’s hope everything keeps improving.

Picture This

As I’m planning to spend more time writing here as time goes on, it occurred to me that I ought to start tacking more meaty subjects than my own exercise failings and stupidity online. The problem is, right now, there’s so much of the latter taking place on a daily basis that I could probably make a full time living doing just that. So to begin your week with a stop and think moment, let’s give a lesson in a subject I am learning more about with each passing day. It’s the game your entire Followers List can play: Objectification for Fun and Profit.

It began with this floating into my timeline: woman of colour Serena Williams has done a photo shoot (for Sports Illustrated) not wearing very much, and a white woman has seen this before getting the right hump. More importantly, it is a woman who is not of colour throwing someone who is a ton of shade for deciding she can do whatever the fuck she likes because she’s successful. I’d love to say that women should stick together, and that you’d not see this happening anywhere else, but that’s just not true either. Let’s roll in the other tweet that made it to my timeline yesterday to prove that sometimes, complaining you don’t like something when being paid to write about it is the worst thing you can ever do:

https://twitter.com/Bhattousai/status/833284335574851584

Not only is it bad to show off your body when a woman of colour and pregnant, or when successful, it is also terrible to celebrate story lines that involve women of colour, despite the fact that movie’s more than likely to win the Best Picture Oscar. It won’t win it because the Oscars committee got grief that there wasn’t enough diversity, for the record, but because it’s a fucking brilliant piece of cinema according to all the sensible, rational people I believe who have seen it. No, I haven’t, but in this case even if I had I’d still take Camilla Long to task, or indeed any of these journalists who think that this is either a way to make money or a fair representation of actual truth. That’s the unexpected advantage of writing fluff pieces for newspapers: it is your opinion, freedom of speech gives you that right yet however wank that is, you’ll still get paid regardless.

Those of us who do this for love think a bit harder about what gets used as subject matter.

cosplay7

Image #7 when I type ‘cosplay’ into Google ^^

I use Tweetdeck for Twitter reading for one reason: it allows me to mute people and phrases when the traditional means of silencing stupid on that platform won’t work. It means therefore that if you put the word ‘cosplay’ in a Tweet I won’t see it either, and I’d like to explain why as an example of how objectification has NOTHING to do with the people being photographed and EVERYTHING around who looks at and then shares those pictures. I enjoy looking at both men and women’s naked bodies, but in my own time and certainly not on social media, and that means I make a conscious choice to remove all references to scantily clad females that other people choose to share online. It is, effectively, people deciding that X has great tits and that everyone should share. That’s objectification, and because I want no part of it, I remove it from my timeline. I’ve also started doing this with shirtless pictures of men, I won’t lie, as I realise that it is just as objectifying as the lovely lady above being waved in my face.

The fact she chose to have this picture taken is NOT her objectifying herself. Sure, it might appear to have that effect, but if you make a conscious decision to allow your life to be public property, that is a consequence everyone takes, from the 40′ waisted pole dancer to the intersex model. Size, shape, colour or sexual preference are irrelevant. An object (and no, I’m not dissing anyone by being this literal) by definition has stuff directed at it, and is not the thing doing the objectification:

object_def

I’ll freely admit that this is a concept I’m coming to quite late, that staring at desirable things is always something that’s been done without really grasping the significance or consequence of the action. After all, if you go to a museum and stare at a naked statue, which presumably is only an interpretation of a real person, what’s the difference between that and the nice young lady pretending to be a representation of a dragon with 44 DD breasts? Of course, with Serena Williams and Beyoncé there is an issue of race that really shouldn’t even exist in 21st Century thinking, where movies like ‘Moonlight’ should just be considered as the norm and not an exception. Objectification happens in too many places, and with not enough consideration for a global stage. It doesn’t help that fascism and introversion are now turning back efforts to expand people’s minds, and that ‘fake news’ makes this the new reality.

throwsomeshade

It makes me sad that people won’t get along. It’s even more depressing that, faced with choice, it is a natural reaction for most of us to assume we’re right and everybody else is wrong. There’s an awful lot of space on this planet for everybody to work together and get along, yet easier to divide and conquer people and ideas to keep what are considered as ‘unruly’ people in line. I’d like to think that if I was ever paid to write this kind of crap for a living I’d make better choices, and wouldn’t think about dissing people or picking targets without understanding what it was I was doing in the first place. Mostly, it seems to me that writing is becoming a lost art: easier to throw a metaphorical plant at someone and forget about finesse. If that’s the case, honestly, these people should be out of a job. This isn’t news, and neither is it opinion I have any interest in, yet undoubtedly outrage causes clicks and makes money.

That’s probably the larger issue that could do with addressing.

planttotheface

Fairytale

Day Four: Stupid shows no sign of diminishing. The notion of effort is brought to light watching 11 blokes on a football pitch who didn’t have a fucking clue what to do when they went behind in their game. I am beyond sad at the fact these ‘players’ are paid ridiculous amounts of money to do a job for a club, but haven’t got the first sense of desire when it comes to representing their country. If money is the only motivation, I’d point to the side that beat them as what it really means to understand both passion and commitment to a national side. This country has no identity any more, when you take away multiculturalism and diversity. People become a bunch of xenophobic, whiny arsebiscuits.

I watched this play out this morning after my PT session at the Gym. Sitting waiting for breakfast, I watched three people over the age of 60 swan up to the Bar while staff were busy serving and stop everything just so they could solve what were stupidly petty problems. One involved looking down to one end of said Bar where items were stored, and picking one up, but this was indeed too much for this particular woman who clearly decided that for her membership? Everybody else does the work. I talked about this at length with my trainer: in her 30 clients, she counts six (including me) who will make an effort, and want to try and improve fitness and appearance over time. Everybody else presumably pays the cash to tell their friends they train, yet nothing changes.

uwotm8_universal

Things only work if there’s effort from both sides, people. It’s not rocket science.

It also occurs to me that you can explain anything away with enough skill, but that never solves a problem. The only way, in the end, to make things change is to find the strength within yourself to affect that. It is apparent that those who are afraid of what this means will often prefer to be unhappy than scared. In fact, some live in a world where unhappy is their default state because it just makes things easier to deal with. That’s staggering, when you think about it: only one life to lead and yet you would rather not challenge yourself or affect change because the consequences are out of your hands. Except that’s really not true, even though the events of the last four days would seem to confirm just how dangerous it is to say what you really feel.

Life isn’t supposed to be easy, people, though if you’re lucky it will be quiet and without drama. Sometimes, shit just happens, and the measure of you as a person is how that gets dealt with. Right now, an awful lot of people’s true colours are showing, and it is not pretty.

If you can’t be good, then maybe just be quiet.

China Girl

I went out with my husband and some friends of his a while back, to a concert at our town’s main venue. In conversation, my relationship with Twitter came up, especially in reference to the number of people I follow. My husband then was asked why he wasn’t nearly as prolific, and his answer was wonderfully simple: it was asking for trouble. The rationale is really simple: when (for instance) you know there’s a fundamental differing of opinion between people you follow on the platform, a mental check goes on whenever Mr Alt decides he wants to respond to an issue. Will this offend someone I know? If he’s at least in some way that it could, he just doesn’t bother. Confident enough in his own understanding of the place he lives and works in, it is not worth the effort if the result will be negative.

That’s the mental check every single person ought to do AS STANDARD.

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Yesterday, someone quite prominent in the place I ‘work’ said something utterly inappropriate to a woman on a livestream. I know for damn sure that similar things have been said to women on TV, in interviews and on dance floors across the planet, and to men too, regardless of either gender assignment or sexual preference. In fact, at any point where someone has found someone else attractive and considered sexytimes with them in their heads? This thought process will have taken place. Talking about this at a Film première for a movie aimed (at least in part) at a teenage market may not be considered a totally appropriate place for this context. Saying it whilst representing an organisation that markets a bunch of T for Teen games and are about to bring out a YT set of novels is probably a bit iffy to boot. However, for me at least, these are the least of the issues. Considering how stringent this organisation normally is for vetting questions from the public? To allow a host to be that crass and inappropriate just shows that sections of Nerd Culture are indeed still wanking in dark corners after several decades, and that someone failed to reinforce the point that professionalism beats edgy buffoonery, pretty much every single damn time.

Look, everybody does it, but nobody cares. That is of course until you mention women masturbate too and then everyone gets all flustered and doesn’t know where to look. But, I digress.

Saucy_eyebrows

Once we get past all the moral indignation and hand-wringing, plus the casual sexism, misogyny and cisgender backlash, the fact remains that if you’d thought first and kept your fucking mouth shut, none of this would be a problem. Every issue, on every subject, will be solved by just keeping quiet. Someone told me this morning in all seriousness that this isn’t the way forward because it means life will be boring and they’d then have to be productive, rather than trying to start an argument with anyone who wants one on social media, which is clearly far more entertaining. The bigger problem is when people’s bigotry starts showing, over everything and anything, the moral indignation that social media amplifies and exacerbates. If you’d only be like my husband and temper your responses: would the world be boring? Would an increase in productivity and general harmony REALLY be a bad thing?

Of course it wouldn’t, but then you’d have nobody to mock, and THEN WHAT?

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The only way things change is when the people who crave the oxygen are starved of it, and as soon as a fight breaks out all that happens is that certain people come along with cannisters full of O2. You can try and temper stupid, but when even the most morally strong are temptable, it ain’t happening. Then it’s damage control and the polls and the dissection of guilt, but mostly nobody cares, unless the person’s so morally repugnant they’re not considered worth saving. What does matter however, is if anyone changes as a result of the event. Can you learn lessons and move on? Will this incident make you a better person? If that happens then maybe, just maybe there will be progress. However, that’s often a very big if.

Remember kids, every day is a school day, even if you refuse to be educated.

popcornitcrowd

Of course, tomorrow nobody will care. However, those of us with long memories will stand, shake our heads and realise that however much some organisations might claim they’ve changed, nothing’s really moved forward at all in 20 years. That’s the bigger issue that still remains to be addressed.

Sort yourselves out, Dudebros ^^

 

Fear

Sometimes I find myself wondering what possesses people to fixate on others. Then I remember I know, that I’ve not only been there but stalked in my youth. It takes a particular kind of intelligence to understand and grasp the capacity to be stupidly obsessive to the point that you’ll actually cause yourself physical harm and justify it as acceptable if it means you get the person you want. So, when someone tries to play the psychology card on me, it’s pretty much a lost cause. Except it happens, every damn day, and I’m still surprised that people can be this stupid. To want to manipulate others to the point you can’t even see how dumb you’re being? To genuinely think you’ve got the ability to bend someone else to your will at a distance? That takes a special variety of delusional.

It does make me think however that maybe a late life degree in psychology would be a really interesting diversion.

you-tried-swim

/golfclap

The trick, of course, is to blend your desire with a clever use of observation. It’s roughly akin to all those ‘how to be a hit with the opposite sex’ guides that ultimately appear in both women’s and men’s magazines, for those without the basic understanding of interaction with their sexual preference of choice. I sent my target of desire various gifts, all carefully chosen to appeal to their own particular interests, but nothing will ever actually make an impression if you are not in the least attractive to the person concerned. You may think they are the centre of YOUR Universe, but the truth is very often that they’ll not even realise affection or desire exists. That should be the wakeup call, of course, but often it takes something desperate to alert your psyche to the damage being wrought. When I look back I think the physical damage for me was that moment, but it took until a long time afterwards (and with help) to grasp that ultimately I was the problem. Then there’s the understanding that if you did this before, it could happen again. That gives you the ability to keep yourself in check, but more importantly pushes for a long term understanding of circumstance to teach you never to start that cycle again.

When you understand that your own naivety is the issue, an awful lot of other stuff makes sense.

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The attention card is what all the cool kids play on the Internet: look at me, I’m big and clever, see how much noise I can make. The more subtle abusers turn this around, and ask their targets whether they are actually worthwhile or useful. It still remains however entry level psychology, and won’t stop anyone with understanding of the technique in their tracks from doing anything. Once you are aware of the basic stupidity in someone’s actions, it becomes remarkably easy to wrench all power from them. Ironically, it also give people like me brilliant material for building villains in fiction. Frankly this stuff is so ridiculous you couldn’t make it up, and when you read it there’s your classic Bond bad guy: desperate to be the centre of everybody’s Universe, bitter yet respectful of his nemesis, looking for the ultimate line to throw back as 007 thwarts his evil schemes. I have read and been told that absolutely the best research you can ever do is by perming your own life story as reference. Looking at it now, I’ve got an awful lot of potential for fiction in the future.

That’s how you pull the positive from your negatives.

nastytaste

There’s an old adage that states that if people are attacking you, you must be doing something right. Mostly, what this should tell you is that your own actions have caused a consequence, and that it is probably a good idea to look at yourself first before automatically assuming that the person with the rock had no reason to throw it. Once you’ve done that and can be comfortable that your actions are acceptable? Then, off you go. The best piece of advice I was ever given in this regard, and I think it remains sound, is that you either shut all the bad out or have the strength of character to let it all in. For some people, the former is essential. It’s the equivalent of never reading a bad review as an artist: you just carry on regardless, and dismiss all criticism the same way. As a writer, I actually get a lot from criticism now I’ve learnt how to deal with it objectively. That’s certainly not the way for many people to go. Iron constitution and buns of steel are a prerequisite.

However, once you can do it, it becomes almost sadistically enjoyable.