We Used To Be Friends

Yesterday, half a conversation arrived on my Timeline. It happens a lot less than was once the case, but with the overlap that (inevitably) occurs in a large group of like-minded individuals, there is an inevitability that eventually, someone who’s blocked me appears. I know the reason for most of them and continue to be impressed at the level of loyalty certain people create with their friends’ groups. I’m not sure I’d ever want anyone to close ranks like that for me if I’m honest. However, I think maybe I ought to start blocking back the people who’ve removed me from their lives.

Interestingly I discovered yesterday you can’t find who’s blocked you using the API. Twitter won’t allow that information to be discovered, despite what some online tools might suggest. Therefore it’s a process of waiting until someone pops up in my Timeline who has imported a particular person’s block list and then returning the favour. Yeah, it’s petty and largely depressing, but what can you do when people treat this medium not as a platform for change but the lunch room in High School.

It was also incidents like this that kept me from moving my life forward for a while, that obsession with feeling confident with myself that eventually had me annotating other people’s emails as if to justify actions were correct. I’ve  not stopped making mistakes since that point, it isn’t as if I’m not able to improve on how my life works after criticism. The prioritisation has altered, and (as should be the case) my focus has shifted to things that can be fixed, and people who will listen. If it is obvious that’s not the case, there are better things to do with my time.

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When I wrote down this topic yesterday I also added a line of secondary thought: if you write this, someone will assume you’re talking about them. This happened the last time I did a post like this, and it (for a while) dissuaded me from making such observations. The people who blocked me stopped caring about my words a long time ago, but I am still thinking about them. I remember the positive conversations we had, and then (undoubtedly) I said something which I can 100% guarantee wasn’t meant as an insult or abuse. It wasn’t posted in an attempt to offend them. However, that was what happened, and then it was Game Over.

I’m the one who needs to learn the lesson. Stop caring about people you’ve never met. Stop feeling you have an affinity with strangers because everybody on the Internet is evil and out to destroy your life. EXCEPT I DON’T WANT TO. I want to believe people can be decent and caring, and understand me. I want to experience the pain of loss and regret because that is how it feels to be alive. I absolutely do NOT want to spend my time with those who live in a sanitised, manufactured reality with no actual relevance to anywhere else. If that makes me unpopular and contentious, SO MUCH THE BETTER.

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If you block me from here on in, I don’t want you reading my stuff either, in any form, so I’ll be happy to return the favour. The truth is, of course, that you don’t have me blocked on that other account and I could still read those Tweets regardless, but I get how stalking works and no, you’re safe. The only surefire way you stop people consuming content is to go private, but that inevitably destroys the social part of the media anyway. The lesson everybody has to take from this is that if you want to play with the big boys, everything’s a potential argument, and you just take your chances regardless.

The online relationships never end, even though you’d sometimes wish they would.

Burn the Witch

There are moments in my life where, I find myself stepping back from everything and asking the question ‘was that the right thing to do?’ If I’m honest, I spend far too much time poking things that should probably be well left alone, but at that moment, undoubtedly it seemed like a good idea. Some of them are, other’s aren’t: welcome to the World of Constant Reassessment. This drives my husband absolutely insane, and I can understand why, but for me having that balance running is really rather important. I’m thinking now about the last person I interacted with, how it came down to a choice that someone else imposed on me whether I kept speaking to them or not. It was either one or the other, and being made to do that to begin with should have been enough of a warning sign. That’s not how you make friends.

Yesterday I took pretty much 95% of my Twitter blocks off. It occurs to me that at some point, you have to accept the fate you place in your own path by the actions that are taken. Blocking one person across all of my social media is never something I’ve ever had to do: it is, in effect a virtual impossibility to attempt to remove someone completely from your life, and as we continue down these virtual Internet pathways it will become apparent to people that trying to control a life is only as possible as the tools that are presented to defend yourself with. I will never be able to eliminate hate whilst hate still exists. You can regulate and monitor, and if the stuff becomes dangerous, you can attempt to cut it out but ultimately, the militants and extremists aren’t the real threat. It’s the normal people who have a ‘moment’ and lose the plot that are the real killers, because nobody saw them coming.

header51In fact, if I am honest with myself, none of the people who I’ve crossed swords with are insane, or dangerous. They’re just not compatible with me. That’s hardly a reason for hate or anger, but oddly it becomes both when someone needs to prove a point. I realise that, for at least one person, I became the ‘there was this nutter on the Internet’ story that they can pass around to their friends and make it so that when I come across them in random conversation, it becomes apparent they’re not listening, or prepared to let me even talk to them. Finding you’re blocked from someone’s feed who you’ve never even spoken too means that, somewhere along the way, you became the enemy. I find that the most sobering thought of all, in all of these considerations of past and present communication. I became the person you hated, for no other reason than you didn’t like what I was. Okay, that might be a tad simplistic, but the point is still worth making.

There’s one person I still regret losing, until I realised that I haven’t. The reason why they left was (I believe) that it was too painful for them to remain whilst I am what I am. As that’s not likely to change any time soon, they vanished from one part of my life, yet steadfastly remain in others, and this is a new concept I’m trying to grasp. I’d prefer that people took me for what I was, good and bad, but the Internet allows them to pick only the parts they wish. So, photography me (who is not bound by the same rules as Twitter me) is of interest to some, but not others. Twitter me conversely becomes of significance only to those interested in the range of tastes I peddle there, whilst this Blog serves as a conduit between the two. This means, in effect, I exist in many forms, which you need to combine in which to form a complete picture of my whole.

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This is what the Internet attempts to do: computers use algorithms to try and work out our tastes and interests on shopping sites and sell stuff to us based on our own habits and desires. Social media hopes it can use the correct forms of advertising to do the same with people, which is all well and good but only to a point. The complexity of humanity means it should be virtually impossible to match people on compatibility, yet virtual dating sites are doing just that, and selling themselves on their chances of success. Everything can be matched to you, but there’s a point where you ask whether that’s what you want, because as individuals mature, so do their outlooks and attitudes. The person you loved a decade ago could be your sworn enemy; if you changed because of them, it would be great if the algorithm caught up. As you change, then the world around you should do, but ultimately for many it never does.

I want to be the change I know I can be. The only way this happens is by being better than I was yesterday, and improving a little every day. To do that, sometimes you have to do things that scare you. Occasionally, you have to admit that maybe, you were the problem.

Today, I admit that, and move on.

New Rose

The last couple of days have been tough on the brain, heat notwithstanding. I’m having to grasp a lot of things that I’ve intentionally steered well clear of in the light of this being my daughter’s last week of Primary School, many of which are wrapped around the nature of change. I’ve also begun to react to my surroundings in a manner which is not what I’m used to: mostly, if there’s an issue or a problem with things I tend to act as I do with Twitter: keep a discreet distance and say nothing. What I’ve begun to understand and really grasp is that sometimes, they’re not my fights. Maybe it is the understanding that I won’t have a chance to make a difference, and that actually intervention will make things worse. That’s why today I kept quiet in the virtual world, but didn’t in the real one.

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I spend a lot of time at my Gym. I’m beginning to get to know the staff who work there, who are lovely people, and who work hard I suspect for not the greatest pay on the planet. Today, in the restaurant/bar area, they were short staffed and instead of people trying to understand this, there was stupid. Lots and lots of stupid from people who should really know better, who weren’t listening to explanations that were patiently and politely given, and had decided that the enemy was the people who were doing their best to help, but simply couldn’t do it fast enough. I found myself thinking about the issues I’m seeing in social media over change in a computer game, and realised that actually, there’s a lot in common here. If all you want is to keep yourself happy? Sometimes, everything else just stops mattering, including the fact you are hurting real people with your condemnation.

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I watched the mum who’s son’s birthday it was, the heavily pregnant woman, and others come in to moan and be generally unpleasant, without grasping the situation and the explanations. They just wanted their food, and didn’t really care about anything else, and not once did the staff complain. They were brilliant and professional and focused and I sat and watched all this in the same way that I watch Twitter arguments, wondering if the people concerned grasped just how selfish they were being. Then I went and told the senior waitress she was doing great work as I know that if that had been me, I’d appreciate the gesture. The fact she hugged me back spoke volumes. Then I went and spent 10 minutes with the duty manager telling her the other side of the story, because sometimes it isn’t just the people making a noise. There’s another side people don’t see, and seldom grasp, that isn’t just them ranting.

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This does not condemn those with issues. They are not the villains in this piece, simply the antagonisers, the instigators. Whenever conflict occurs, it is up to both sides to try and reach a solution that works: some of the complainers did this, others didn’t. Many assume that because they pay a monthly fee, they should be provided with a decent level of service. This is undoubtedly true, but what that doesn’t take into consideration is that occasionally, stuff just goes wrong. Sometimes it isn’t just getting a refund or blaming the company for bad service. Occasionally, the fault is yours to take. What seems to be happening, more and more in this instant reaction World, is that fact is forgotten. It becomes just easier and simpler on both sides to blame anyone but yourself.

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Then, the individual really can make the difference. You don’t wade into the argument, instead you support a side, help the people struggling to cope. With the benefit of a step back, things become a lot easier to rationalise. Often, it seems to me, what helps people more than anything else is looking at both sides and not simply one. yes, you may have a problem, but there are things at play apart from those that you can see. Elements are involved beyond those that are obviously apparent. If you can help, then do but if you’re making things worse? Step away. This is the thing I’ve always been bad at, and today I did think before wading in, long and hard. That says to me I’m getting better generally with confrontation. Needless to say, everyone I spoke to was nothing but grateful someone could see the good in a situation.

In that respect, this has been a Good Day.