Audacity of Huge

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This morning I was reminded of how Twitter, like it or not, is just as manipulative as all other forms of social media. That’s not the fault of the platform, has very little if anything to do with the people who use it. What the above graphic reminds me is that how we as individuals perceive ourselves is often radically different to the view others hold. This ‘meme’ above doing the rounds right now is a case in point: you know how much I like a decent .GIF, but I’d NEVER ask other people to use one to describe me.

That’s because I understand that if I did, there’s the chance someone’s going to tell me the truth.

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The main reason why ‘abuse’ is categorised as such by people is the level of hurt it is able to inflict. If you’re Twitter, for instance, for every 1000 ‘shut up and fuck off’ account abuse reports received there’s probably one that will be considered as a credible threat. The difference between casual abuse and a potential court case will also depend on the type of person being threatened, and I suspect it will take a high profile Twitter stalking (plus fatality) of a ‘normal’ person for that to change, if it does at all. The issue is simple: what you will class as an insult someone else might regard as funny. If you’re stalked obsessively for months, only then is it likely anyone might care. However, if you want it to stop? Evidence will have to stand up in court, and that could take years.

What has all this got to do with a harmless meme, I hear you ask? It is potentially more damaging when someone you trust posts something you don’t understand, or more significantly doesn’t post anything at all to a participative event like the Meme Game. You hope someone will, and then if that response is not what you’d hoped or wanted then BOOM it all goes Pete Tong in short order. I realised quite quickly as this meme gained traction that I couldn’t get away with just posting the .GIFs I wanted without explaining them to people who I know, after extended periods of interaction, don’t think the same way I do. I’m very big on .GIF use, but also like the moral ambiguity an image can bring, subtlety involved in being able to ‘read’ the visual in different ways. As soon as I realised the images I wanted to use could end up being considered as less than flattering?

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Here is the inherent issue that has existed back since Usenet opened up the World to ‘group’ discussion: ambiguity. It will also have a lot to do with the intelligence of the person you’re posting to, their current mental status… and a ton of other stuff that you’ll never be able to understand until you’ve been a victim of abuse. That could be as simple as complimenting your breast size to threatening to set fire to your car. When those are the extremes of what is considered casual abuse on the Internet? You can see why a simple image suddenly gains a great deal of power. It is also undoubtedly true that however ‘good’ a friend on the Internet says they are, however close you might feel the connection, everybody has the potential to wake up and fundamentally change forever. Yes, this happens, people, and more often than you might believe.

Everybody has the potential to become a toxic maniac that stalks you.

There are an awful lot of assumptions about how you control what appears in Twitter, and many of them are not sound. This is not a place where you get to pick and choose what goes on unless there’s a lock on your account. The only means to ensure true privacy is by removing yourself from mainstream/public eye completely. Sure, you can choose to ignore people who don’t provide a phone number, but most victims know their attackers. Random is very rarely the problem. If you have to ask people to explain why they do things, it could well be that your actions also require assessment, and that’s a blog post for another day. In short, shit like this might start innocently enough, but in the end somebody always gets hurt.

If you really want people to describe what you are, just ask them up front.

Epilogue

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I have gallstones.

The sonographer seemed surprised I wasn’t yellow when I arrived, and that I was as healthy as was ascertained yesterday. He was also amazed that I was in absolutely no pain at any point during what was a pretty robust procedure, which seems odd: they wouldn’t show me the scans either and instead immediately referred me back to my GP. As my husband pointed out, presumably this is so I return to my Doctor and discuss the results and don’t hope everything will work out for the best. Needless to say, stomach, liver, spleen and kidneys were all looked at in detail. I’d sort of assumed it would just be where the pain was, but no.

Now, I have to wait until Tuesday.

The first thing I did when I got back was look at how you have a gallbladder removed. It’s done via keyhole, I get some cute scars to match my C Section, and ‘on average’ I’m back to normal in two weeks. The alternative, one assumes is that I cut out all the trigger shit in my diet and live with it. There’s no point second guessing anything, however, until I speak to someone paid to know this, so I’ll be spending the weekend doing what I’ve been doing since it happened and largely carrying on as normal.

It could be so much worse, and for that I am so very grateful.

The Best Thing

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That’s the best night’s sleep for weeks, right there. Three blocks of glorious, uninterrupted Deep sleep. Not waking up until 4.30am. No longer feeling thirsty when I did, but going to drink anyway, knowing I need to keep liver and kidneys dealing with the accumulated toxins in my body. Having my digestive system operating normally.

Realising, like it or not, that I dodged a massive bullet.

Of course, I still will take the blood tests and the scans to make sure the initial diagnosis was correct. I’m eating stupidly healthy for the foreseeable future, even if I crave the crap. Had I not been as healthy as I am now, if there hadn’t been the push to exercise that had happened, I would be waking up to a Saturday in hospital.

I’ll be taking plenty of time to grasp just how fucking lucky I am.

If You Love Somebody Set Them Free

The truth is a difficult topic for discussion around these parts.

Many people have, over the years, attempted to divert the course of history by presenting their version of the truth. The movie above is a fictionalised version of someone’s attempt to stop a previous US President in his tracks. Depending on who I believe, there’s plenty of other stuff in progress to derail the current incumbent too:

The truth can be created on all manner of computers, both ancient and modern.

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The overriding problem with ‘truth’ when it comes to politics is knowing who to believe, and what ‘version’ of the truth is the one most important to ‘expose.’ When you consider the last President to decline an invitation to the Correspondent’s Dinner was one R. Nixon Esq., there’s a reason for thinking that maybe the truth that involves Russians and hacking might hold some traction. All the noise That Man is making about it would certainly suggest that he’d rather people stopped digging, but will this eventually be the truth that destroys his aspirations of power? More importantly, what is it about actors and the truth (albeit in a sanitised form) that helps us as mere bystanders better grasp the real changes going on around us?

Hollywood needs to reflect a truth that politicians try to supress, and although it may annoy many people to hear that in a speech where you’re more interested who designed the actors clothes than the message they give, this stuff matters. A blue ACLU ribbon on a red dress, a Planned Parenthood button on shimmering gold… these are not overt signs of affinity, but a new form of quiet revolution. These are people who know very well what the truth is and the significance of upholding it. Last night’s Oscars may be remembered by some as a mix up when an actor just read what was on the card before thinking through the consequences. For me however, it was about a major part of American institutionalisation finally holding up a hand and admitting that it wouldn’t fuck up like it has in the last few years ever again, because it now grasps the worldwide consequences if it does.

The truth can set you free, but only if you allow yourself to fully embrace it.

The future is about challenging the perceived truths that surround us. If you pick a visual representation of your ideal mate, and then are presented with 8 ‘versions’ of that truth, how do you look past the superficial and find someone you can truly connect with? Maybe the reality you need has nothing to do with facts but can only be assuaged by going to pick up rubbish in your Community, or volunteering for unpaid work with people crying out for assistance. Perhaps you will stand tall with others in a demonstration, or teach your children that to question the world and be ‘different’ is neither bad nor wrong, but should be positively encouraged. This however is not the time to stop caring and leave it to someone else. Here we stand, with the need to understand not only individual truths, but the larger issues that bind our realities to each other.

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These truths are not real or fair. This is not what I want the future to look like, and yet this is what my government and others believe is the only truth that matters: if you were not born here, you do not belong. This is not a truth I ascribe to and yet the reality of our existence now is this chaos of one hand pulling and the other pushing, when both should encircle and care. Why has truth deserted us? That’s simple: people are afraid. My elderly parents, both unhappy that their future means uncertainty remaining in a community that’s provided peace for decades, somehow felt that we’d be better off living as isolationist, poorer in both minds and pockets. I’m sorry the other 52% of people who caused our chaos couldn’t see beyond their own selfish needs, but their truth has always been a lifetime away from those who don’t just see their own desires as paramount.

The truth, ultimately, will never be enough to change a selfish reality.

I’m getting tired of being told the truth will come out. I’m sad that my future is decided by people who don’t care about anybody but themselves. I want a better world, and am beginning to realise that the only way this happens is if I do it myself, and so I will. All I can hope is that if enough of us stop being bystanders, afraid of what might happens if someone else doesn’t act, that perhaps together we can turn things around. There has to be hope, and right now that matters more than the truth.

I hope I can find a way to make things better for the children I am leaving this Planet to.

I Love It (I Don’t Care)

Quite early in my Warcraft blogging career, I wrote a post in total ignorance about the stupidity of Devs naming in-game armour and trinkets after seemingly ridiculous and nonsensical items. What I didn’t know at that point was the name I’d innocently abused belonged to a real life Warcraft player, who was ‘influential’ in the part of the Community I’d pitched up in at the time. Once this was pointed out to me I was mortified, and immediately apologised, but it didn’t matter. The damage was done, and subsequently a load of people I really liked and considered as friends dropped me and my blog like it was lined with asbestos. Yesterday this moment resurfaced when someone linked me a Tweet from an account that has me blocked, I’m fairly confident as an upshot from this same incident. It appears that there are still those that consider me a toxic influence, despite years of trying to demonstrate that I am anything but. 

Even when you strive to change and improve, others will not care, and that’s fine.

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The assumption of some people when being on the Internet is simple: you’re out to attack me, aren’t you? Then there are the others who’ll lament that nobody cares what I say or write… and the list goes on, countless ways of having your online ego matter far more than anyone else, in a place where it isn’t about being correct or shouting loudest, but being allowed a right to a voice, whatever it has to say. These people continually fail to grasp how selfish ego pushes the promotion of self above all else. It is not about being the centre of all if you’re here to vocalise opinion without prejudice. I’ll freely admit, it took me a while to learn that lesson, and there are still days when I wish that my needs could be instantly assuaged by declarations of brilliance. Then I remember the harsh and horrible lessons learned by living online for several decades, that genuine compliments are never asked for and rarely earned, and how when you’re inescapably under attack every word that’s meant to be praise ends up as poison.

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This ‘place’ we all inhabit is not won or lost by the number of followers you possess or the hits on your Blog, and yet there is this constant complaint and background noise that somehow this remains the only way to be considered ‘successful.’ In fact, those who consider success as something another person gives you are the ones really not understanding the bigger picture. I’m watching various arguments happen right now about places that pull in more cash than I’ll make in my lifetime being failures and how this isn’t fair when put beside the obvious hard work that’s been placed into them. Well, I hate to break this to you, but that’s how life works. Stuff becomes popular, then it doesn’t. If you’re smart you’ll reinvent yourself and move on… but if you remain unmoving, there will be consequences. The other point that needs to be made here is very simple: this isn’t about people. If you make company ‘drama’ over specific individuals and their own desires, it will never, ever be a situation that successfully resolves, with one key exception. If your website fails, and it’s just you writing, then the blame is in your lap. If you’re run by a massive corporation and it all goes tits up? The buck could stop anywhere, roll your D20 to decide.

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That’s why I don’t need to succeed any more being a Warcraft blogger. I’ll grant you, there was an 18 month period a while back where I entertained the possibility, but then I remembered that naming incident and looked at the environment around me and grasped an important truth: if all you are concerned about is your own existence, that’s living life wrong. I’ll grant that there are a percentage of the player base who are decent, thoughtful and considerate, but of the people who I exist alongside on social media, there’s an awful lot who aren’t. That’s why I now run a very strongly and fiercely curated Twitter list, and I’m quite proud of the fact I no longer just roll my eyes at the collective stupid that abounds but attempt to confront it head on. The truly arrogant people, of course, read my thoughts and either assume it’s obviously directed at them and not general advice or attack me for opening my mouth to begin with.

At least I know then they possess the ability to listen, and possibly change.

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Everybody fucks up, just a fact of life, but if your response when someone makes a genuine mistake is to ostracise them? More fool you. On more than one occasion I’ve been this stupid and done just that, and going back to apologise will not show you as either weak or stupid. In fact, it should confirm your status as human along with the rest of us, and will earn you snacks and respect for at least grasping there was fault on all sides. There are still those who’ll only see Twitter as their soapbox, or Twitch as their theatre, and I doubt that will change as long as there’s a fan base to agree and Drama to generate. Oh, and to those who might then argue I’ve turned my back on them for an honest mistake, I’d ask you to take a long, hard look at yourself. Was it just me you had an issue with? Have you overreacted consistently on social media? Can you honestly say you care about the thoughts and feelings of other people? If you feel genuinely aggrieved feel free to come find me and ask for that block to be reconsidered. However, if your sole aim was to get what YOU wanted?

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There are those people who tell me that posts like this aren’t helpful, that stirring muddy waters only results in more drama. Well, I’m past that stage and on the other side of the river. Looking back at yet another bridge burnt, I know full well that the people who won’t be stopped by a loss of access will simply move downstream to find a safer way to cross. Maybe they are brave enough to swim across at the point where river meets the sea, pushing against the tides of expectation. If they don’t care and there’s a boat to protect them, perhaps that will be enough for now, but maybe not in the future. Ultimately, your own soul is the arbiter of truth, and mine tells me this way is my true means forward. Those who accept this truth make their own decisions, following and leaving in often equal measure, and long may this be the way this journey continues to happen.

Sometimes, it isn’t about being the same thing, all the time.