Your Game

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If all you care about are numbers, success can be easily devolved down to a 1/0 equation. I mean LOOK AT MY INFOGRAPHIC PEOPLE I have a 30% increase in mentions from last month! But that is frankly nothing compared with the WHOPPING 50% rise in engagements! What is my secret? I’ll tell you, it’s the fact that I’ve only picked up 11 followers in the last month. I don’t give a flying fuck about who wants to follow me, but if they meet a certain criteria I will pretty much automatically turn them away at the door. If you’re here to play the ‘only way to win at Twitter is with a six figure audience’ card and you’re NOT Stephen Fry?

Don’t waste my time, amateurs.

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The thing is, however, that some of these people clearly aren’t fucking about on Twitter and have worked quite hard to get the numbers to work for them. Once upon a time, they were simply robot accounts with minimal if not no actual human content attached. However, once Twitter got wind of the fact their game could be botted and people could rack up enormous high scores and never actually engage their users? These accounts are no longer simply regurgitated monthly links to blog posts. There’s a complex game involving monetising and SEO via websites that some people play with as much commitment and dedication as you follow your favourite team. It’s not exactly going to make you a hit with the ladies, but becoming a smart marketeer clearly makes ends meet. Except if you looked closely at the 596k followers attached to my sample account above, there’s likely to be a fair proportion of not real people in that total.

I however, strive to seek out real people as a matter of priority.

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While some might obsess over popularity, I crave reality wherever possible. That means that yes, I go look at people’s feeds and read their biographies long before I press ‘Follow’. I keep a pretty close eye on what is being said or referenced too, and that means when someone leaves I’ll pretty much always go back and check why. You can consider it the equivalent of running a busy entertainment complex and constantly doing customer feedback to ensure the people who come to talk, eat and enjoy themselves are getting the maximum experience for their time spent. Yes, this does mean I listen to criticism too: I’ve cut back on stuff that won’t make sense to you if there’s not appropriate context. When I get cross at something, when before I would have done a bit of leery subtweeting, I now instead throw pot plants. This has helped me cut the drama in my feed down to an absolute minimum.

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When success is now defined as a man in the White House who has billions of dollars earned but not one ounce of decency or compassion to his name, that concept holds no thrill for me. If being bigger and better than anybody else is your definition of achievement, I’m not interested. This, for me, is a slow and brilliant story that doesn’t rely on my ability to fool a robot and everything on my skill as a writer. As I refine the process of replying to Tweets in both concise and increasingly creative ways, I want less and less to do with anyone who seems to think they know what I want without asking. If your version of ‘interacting’ is simply throwing anything you believe I want on my feed in the vain hope I’ll be grateful, without taking the time to both talk and interact? This is not respect, it is simply lip service, and in the end you will never truly succeed at anything without being able to care beyond a basic set of variables. You might be happy with the size of your referrals, but I honestly don’t care. That’s not what I’m here for.

That’s a journey that I’m only just beginning.

Architecture and Morality

‘If something offends you, go do something else.’

I’ve spent a lot of time talking to my husband about ‘Passengers’, a film which has caused a bit of a fuss over the moral dubiousness of its plotline. I was genuinely excited about this movie when the trailers first surfaced in June, but when it became apparent that what this movie isn’t either pleasant or comfortable in terms of how the two leads end up together? I pretty much lost interest. The biggest problem however for me, on considered thought, was the fact that this movie intentionally skirts those real issues in all of the promotional material, and it was only when the first indignant reviews emerged that it became apparent what you were really buying into. Once that becomes unavoidably apparent? Well, it is obvious that some people didn’t care about anything else except the bad things.

My husband has very rationally and logically pointed out that if you know about the moral duplicity of the plot? It could make things more interesting, and not less so, and this is a very fair point. The problem is however that with the year that’s just gone, I suspect many people went to see this movie in the hope it would be sunshine and rainbows, and not to be metaphorically kicked in the genitalia. As a result, this whole endeavour also suffered as a result of circumstance. However, if your interest is the moral complexity of how to deal with isolation and loneliness? I suspect this movie could be right up your street. In discussion over this, my husband pulled up ‘While you Were Sleeping’ as a perfect example of a movie that, like it or not, is really rather morally dubious, but won’t see people bemoaning Sandra Bullock pretending to be an unconscious man’s fiancee.

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For my husband, the reaction to this whole debacle simply amplifies the depressing ‘echo chamber’ effect of the Internet. That revolves around a subset of people who decide to hate something based solely on exploitation or received moral indignation and doesn’t take at all into consideration the fact the focus of their ire in this case is a) entertainment and b) fiction. Because it is art there should be no need for such a reaction: if you don’t like it, then you can simply ignore the thing and move on. Those who somehow feel better about being part of the lynching party not simply over movies but in every aspect of modern life are genuinely scary, and it is becoming increasingly galling when these flash-points end up splitting up friendships and causing people to threaten others livelihoods or existence. Mostly, this particular episode has been a salutatory lesson for me, to remind him and myself that the only way all this works is when you listen to each other, and learn from contrary viewpoints.

I’m still not spending my cinema money on this however, that will be going on Rogue One.

What happens next for me in personal terms is becoming increasingly better defined as time goes on. Maintaining an open mind needs to be top of my list: engaging, not arguing, making people think and not imposing points of view on others. It isn’t about being right, and never will be, it is far more important to understand WHY and look to yourself as a potential source of change before expecting anybody else to do the same.

I want to talk with you in 2017 and very definitely not at you, and that will need some work.

Another Way to Die

This year may not been kind, but if I’m going to survive going forward then it is high time to be realistic. 2016, for me personally, has not been a bad year. It has, all told, been FUCKING AWESOME, and maybe I would be better served not pretending I’ve become a shadow of my former self, because that’s so utterly not true. So the meme above is actually as accurate as I think it is possible to be. I’ve gone from a fairly staid and uptight woman of the 1970’s to a pretty chill and sexually comfortable person of the early 21st Century. I look far better in the armour, I never liked the bright colours anyway, and now I can embrace all the shit that comes with my baggage?

2017 is looking pretty damn amazeballs.

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There will be a pre-Christmas meeting with my Trainer to establish what is required to shift the last of my extraneous fat, and so committed am I to this task that I am fully prepared to go the whole shakes and brutal exercise route to make it a reality. It’s not that I’m trying to become something I’m not any more. This is what I’ve always wanted to be deep down. I never had the confidence or belief in myself to make it a reality until now. It’s got an awful lot to do with the understanding that if you listen to your own internal voices that will convince you that failure’s just easier and less stressful, this is what happens. Inertia, inability and a lifetime of belief that you’ll never be good enough.

I am good enough. I’m better than that. I can produce an entire story from nothing, start to finish, that doesn’t only make sense but which is compelling and brilliant. I’m capable of lifting my own body weight with assistance. I’m becoming more and more adventurous with so many things that previously would have sent me away screaming in terror. Nobody made me better, I have no book to recommend or guru to thank. I did this. Little old me with the inhalers and the body confidence issues and the darkness that sometimes obscures everything around me. I found a voice, and a direction. I made things better for myself, and now I’m going to start doing it for other people too.

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This weekend I’m going to spend half a day on Social media using my powers for good and hoping I can get people to donate money to a mental health charity in a period where cash for many is tighter than at any other time of the year. There are so many more worthy causes at this time of year, I know, but MIND does so much sterling work for a group of people who often cannot find a voice. I know, because I’ve been there. I’ve cancelled all plans, am getting my husband to take the kids to see Grandma this year alone so I can be here and do this, and try and make more than just a passing donation to a good cause. I need to make this matter. With all the terror and chaos currently surrounding us, at home and abroad, it might seem selfish to think of myself, but that’s what happens whenever I realise just how important charities like MIND are to those who cannot cope with what life throws at them.

That was me, not so long ago. I was there and didn’t know how to help myself and now I do, I want to make sure that awareness is raised, that others don’t have to feel alone and helpless at a time of year when often family are the most difficult group of people to talk to. This is only the first step in giving back, there will be many others, and by the time I’ve done I hope I really can make a tangible difference to people’s lives. That’s what others have done for me and I’d like to thank them all, and so I will, but not here. That’s my task to complete and I’m getting there, slowly but surely. For now, I hope I’ll see you at Midday on Saturday for 12 hours of .GIF related awesome.

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Look Away

One of the most important things that ever happened to me as an impressionable 20-summat was a book that I was told to read as part of my University degree. I never realised that it was also a TV show in the 1970’s:

John Berger pretty much redefined a generation’s view of themselves and everything else with Ways of Seeing. If you have never read it I cannot urge you enough to go and do so, because what this book does is redefine a basic tenet: ‘the relation between what we see and what we know is never settled.’ It is a very significant point to make, now and always, that when presented with an image, it is not a truth. It can be defined in so many different ways, depending on the context in which you present it. I have a brilliant example of this: it’s my Giant Blue Cock:

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Yes, it’s a sculpture, but in my Twitter feed it is male genitalia that I couldn’t put there but people know exist in my head, my world view and therefore they accept the interpretation of that ‘image’ into theirs. It’s like pictures of Spotted Dick and Richard Nixon, you get the joke. It is the acceptance of your audience of how visual association works. That means by definition that if you present a certain set of images in a particular fashion, you’re making a point.

I have a perfect example of this right here.

https://twitter.com/Rosie/status/796939518167384064

This came from Rosie O’Donnell’s Twitter account. This is, I assume, a Democratic, Hillary Clinton supporting woman’s conscious decision, based on a very depressing point that wants to be made, and the disbelief in my head when I saw this was considerable, as it comes from someone who should really grasp the power of image when misused… and that’s what this is. I could google Mr Trump’s wife and find many, many pictures of her looking as all those other First Ladies do, but then what was would be the point of that Tweet to begin with? Mrs Trump was a nude model before she married her husband: isn’t the USA supposed to be the place where it doesn’t matter about your past, you can still be a success? I can only assume that this was posted to make a point, that somehow posing nude in ‘public’ makes you less worthy than other women, and certainly not worthy enough to be the First Lady.

This is, like it or not, the reality of my existence. It’s not just the images either: I doubt this article on the potential horrors that climate change could be bringing wouldn’t have ended up in my feed were Trump not now President-elect. If your job is to sell advertising and not educate people, how can you really tell what’s truth or what’s well-placed scaremongering? How do you make a distinction, when even the people you know will put their particular spin on your world view?

Everybody colours the World in their own way to survive. You gravitate towards people who you feel safe with and can trust. You view ‘the enemy’ with revulsion and terror, but if you were on the other side of the fence…? That’s exactly what you’d still be doing. My mate Vitt just took me at my word when I asked: here’s five First Ladies, all together, without a prejudicial bias. That’s just what they are. If you have no desire to make a point, and all you want is to help, does it really matter one iota which side of the fence you happen to be on? Nope, you just help each other. If all you’re here to do is be angry and cause trouble?

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However much you hate the Orange Man right now, for whatever reason, the fact remains he is only one part of a far more complex set of variables, a lot of which you really can do something about. Sitting there and throwing shit at those who won because you think this will make you feel better? Well, it might, but if you choose to do that in public, it is likely to do you far more harm than good. I’ve lost respect for someone today who I thought would know better, and am grateful to someone else for being a decent person. Your experience of life may vary, but one thing remains: we are all the same. Deep down, our basic DNA structures mean that, like it or not, everybody is human.

How you choose to demonstrate that is, of course, entirely up to you.

Home Again

Without wanting to jinx it, I seem to have adjusted back to UK time with considerable more ease this time around than I did last year. I’m aware I owe you coverage of the last two days of Holiday, but I’m still processing a lot of that anyway (because content made me shift in thinking), and pretty much as soon as I got back there was throwing myself into gaming, tidying plus scrambling back on the fitness wagon. The best news I could have had from the scales this morning was what I got: I’ve lost weight, despite doing about 10% less exercise over the last 10 days than I do normally. Exercise and heat will have a lot to do with this, plus I maintained the 36 push ups a day regime throughout.

Needless to say, I have a ton of new headers to make tomorrow, plus a lot more besides and I’ll be starting early. I’m back, and you’ll get normal service again starting tomorrow :D