Somebody’s Watching Me

Occasionally, someone will retweet something into my Twitter feed I can’t see. If that person is someone really liked, and there’s a desire to read it, it’ll be time to fire up the Internet of Words feed for a quick shufty. Some people arbitrarily share the block filters of others (which is easily done via the default interface if you know how) and it has become a common tool, for example, to allow the more extremist ends of the discussion spectrum to identify and highlight those people who might be worth provoking for a reaction.

Having pissed off a few people in my time, when a block happens it is no real surprise. I know the people responsible for that ire, and that’s totally fine.

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You won’t end up being friends with everybody in life. This is something I’m still trying to get my daughter to grasp: the popularity contest vibe that places like Instagram create is all well and good, right up to the point that something divisive comes up in conversation. When historical and often unpalatable social beliefs surface in tandem, you know what’s coming. People use blocks in many different ways, but by far the most popular reason now appears to involve excluding large groups of people from conversations that the individual wishes to maintain control over, whilst still presenting a public front.

Effectively, life becomes a public conversation where the responses are edited.

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If I started arbitrarily deleting responses to my blog posts, I’d become a pariah overnight. I know this because I walked that path and it happened: lessons were summarily learnt. Assuming the people concerned still exist as active posters, there is never a desire to go out of my way to check whether that’s the case: obsessing over shit like this makes you as bad, if not worse than the people already doing just that. If you encounter someone who’s got a block on and it makes no sense, the chances are they just took someone else’s list for a quiet life. Except, by doing so, they create an impression of the truth that only works for so long, or in the particular sphere they inhabit.

Ironically, this becomes a good way to work out who are the decent people on Social media.

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I go through cyclical phases of blocks and mutes: the latter tends to happen when it is obvious that a person’s life is more important than being interactive in yours. If, after someone is muted and their voice isn’t missed, that’s when I’ll go ahead and unfollow. However, there are a handful of people that if this were done to they’d 100% make drama out of my choice, which used to cause something of a quandary… because these people create drama out of everything, and I’d like my choices not to be a part of that.

One day, perhaps the lesson will be learnt, but until then it will be someone else’s task to present.

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If you live in communities, there has to be give and take. All of us, like it or not, are not without faults and shortcomings. Managing yours whilst at the same time maintaining the illusion of being inclusive is not the way to live. The key must be to change, adapt and accept that, like it or not you have to take the good with the bad.

In time, I hope to find the means to do this more effectively.

Bad Day

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There’s a trend of late, that disturbs me greatly. Someone who clearly has an axe to grind at the actions of someone else will post something via Social media to the effect of ‘oh my God this is terrible and WRONG and as a result I won’t buy/watch/take part in this thing any more.’ Let me give you an example that Duncan Jones tweeted into my timeline late yesterday evening:

Of course, all of this indignation hinges on your definition of wrong. As men have been kissing each other since Roman times, I see no problem with television showing the action. I also see no problem with people calling someone out who mistakenly has decided that allowing this in a sci-fi show is somehow appealing to a demographic, when that show has historically broken cultural barriers since debuting in the 1960’s. Some people have short memories, and many others need to understand that the wrong they’re seeing is not somebody else’s problem, but their own perception at fault.

More people need to admit they’re wrong in public.

The last month has seen a palpable sea change in the US over what counts as decent behaviour. There’s a realisation emerging that shallow, indistinct indignation is no longer enough to make the changes people want, and more and more individuals are taking matters into their own hands. Slowly, but surely, the swamp might yet begin to drain, but not perhaps in the way many Republicans expected. The acid test is whether telling other people someone is wrong works in the same way as that person admitting the fault themselves. In this case, silence seems only to confirm culpability, as has been the case for Weinstein and an increasing number of high profile celebrities.

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However, sometimes sorry is not enough. Sure, its great to be vindicated, and refreshing to be proven correct, but when apologies come from people you cannot believe understand the value of either contrition or remorse… it is a very human emotion to want justice, and to demand acceptance. However, nobody learns anything until the fundamentals are grasped with considerably more willingness. Teaching people it is weak to admit failure is bollocks. Knowing how to fail is a skill far more people need to learn and accept as part of life. The trick, as is the case with most things, is finding the balance. I can build myself up and knock myself down without anyone else involved. Sometimes, that’s essential to get the day done.

Mostly, if you could stop thinking that what two blokes do on screen is corrupting your society that seems happy to attack women, ostracise anyone who’s not white and condemn other religions that aren’t Christianity? That might be a start. However, please don’t go too far the other way. Listening to people on my Social media feed publicly blaming other people for their own inability to self-help, self-care or make the best of what are incredibly privileged situations to begin with seems to be flavour of the month. Maybe the answer isn’t to sit there feeling sorry for yourself but start effecting long term change. I began with 30 minutes around the block every day. The first step is the hardest, but the benefits (trust me) are enormous.

After that, if you’re happier pretending everybody else is wrong but you, you’re probably on your own.