Hello! Sorry for general silence of late.
Excuses: being generally busy, dealing with some things that aren’t for publishing on the internet right now, our flat flooding last week and not having caught up on lost sleep – et cetera.
This is just a quickie to let you know I’m still here (because you’re obviously flailing around as if suddenly blind in my absence) and to make a few mini-points.
Some big things have been happening lately. The BBC even covered it!
First I recommend checking up on Rhys’ blog because apparently, Mr Jim Humble himself has come out of hiding to grace the skeptical blogosphere with his presence. It’s nice to be able to engage, supposedly, with the person we’ve all been talking about at last, but the claims are as staggeringly wrong and dangerous as ever.
Spaces to watch
The Lay Scientist at the Guardian. Keep an eye out for similar treats.
Basically keep all the senses primed for bleach-related goings-on.
A tweet from onlydanno that I saw today got me thinking:
Facebook is where you lie to people you know. Twitter is where you’re honest to strangers.
9:37 PM Oct 3rd via SimplyTweet
Most people do just say what they think on Twitter, which is great – I love honesty, but there are now countless examples of why that can be a ‘bad‘ thing – the Twitter joke trial and Gillian McKeith’s PR idiocy, for example; I’ve also had to apologise for accidentally offending people.
There is something lovely about it. Seeing ‘real’ thoughts, not what’s been adjusted/censored for acceptability. It’s wonderful to put something out there that perhaps you never had the guts to say before and to launch into conversations with people you’ve never met who somewhat or totally (dis)agree with you.
It has parallels with stand-up comedy (and indeed many of my favourite people to ‘follow’ are fantastic comedians – professionally and not) and I’ve mentioned before how seeing what people are thinking (e.g. twitterfalls at events) can be amusing, enlightening but also slightly disturbing.
There is after all often good reason for not saying aloud what immediately comes to mind.
The exception to this is of course the fake account; for comedy purposes or otherwise. Many Twitter accounts are semi or completely anonymous and devoted to made-up goings-on. Again some of my favourites are fabrications, characters. So the honesty of these is usually questionable if not unapplicable.
I’m not sure I completely agree with the sentiment by itself; it’s a neat yin/yang concept, that statement, but I don’t think it really applies to me. I don’t really lie and if I do it’s limited to the minimal and (I reckon) necessary.
Facebook is, by and large, limited to interaction with people you know. Sure you can add ‘randoms’ but the people I’ve never met, who are on my friend list, I still count as friends because we’ve been interacting online for a long time. I’ve been chatting to people I’ve not actually met through the internet for… 13 years now and I consider myself a reasonable judge of character.
I think Facebook has just become quite impersonal. The group functionality has been reduced, it’s being stripped down to ‘likes’ that don’t really say much about you except that you enjoy some observational comedy – these groups always existed; the I turn my pillow over to feel the cold side! and A cup of tea makes everything better kind. But now it’s everything, from your favourite books/bands/films to activities. You can’t put it in your own words, you just like a page.
So I’d say if it is lying, it’s more by omission, having been reduced to something more universally applicable – that’s understandable, since it’s gone from being a university-based system to a worldwide phenomenon. To appeal to the masses it must cater for them. That means general sweeping statements. Perhaps I’d call it astrological social networking – make the kind of statements that are vague enough to ring true for almost everyone.
I use both, happily, to keep in touch with people, make new friends and share things. I guess you’d call it networking. Not everyone uses them for that, not everyone has to.
I’ve met more people ‘from Twitter’ in the last year or so than I’ve ever met ‘from the internet’ – almost all have been fantastic and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to meet like-minded individuals and so on. Socially and professionally, I think it’s brilliant.
Facebook helps me keep in touch with my friends. We all find phone calls intrusive at times, texts can be forgotten, numbers change, e-mails are plagued by spam and letter-writing seems pre-historic to most (though it’s still fun at times, it’s not good for arranging a dinner party tomorrow night).
Both allow me to access and share interesting, important, funny and pointless links to articles/videos/images etc. – I get almost all my news from social networks now and that means from a range of sources so I feel like I’m finally outside the closed network of news media (owned by a few with very specific interests) that most are stuck inside offline.
So to finish, regarding my last point, here are some interesting things from my recent browsing history that I’d like to share, which you may not have seen if you follow my ranting neither on Twitter nor Facebook.
Jamie Oliver on TED – please spare 20 minutes for this. I’ve written about Jamie before and this is well worth the watch; great to see his work gain international recognition.
A calendar everyone needs to buy.
The Science is Vital campaign – please sign! Writing to your MP even better! Attending Saturday’s march: 1 million points (I can’t go, sadly).
Druidry is officially a religion. Time to go one way or the other: either everything anyone comes up with that based on nothing observably true gets religious status (and the tax breaks that go with it) or nothing gets any special treatment simply because it’s a belief system that you can’t prove is rubbish. Suggest the latter.
Creationist/ID nutters continue to infest UK.
Marmite have made some chocolate (this would be a fun birthday present, hinthint – actually never mind, I don’t want 10 bars of the stuff!!)
Turn off Facebook Places so your friends can’t tell other people where you are! This app is a bit worrying so just turn it off if you’re unsure.
I may have just written about how Twitter is more honest (and therefore perhaps a bit better) than Facebook, but I’m not sure this is really the way to redress the balance.