Evolving The Reality Fragments FB Page

cropped-realityfragments.jpgAs I mentioned earlier, there’s this Reality Fragments Facebook page that was started really because Facebook asked me about it. It evolved into a place where I would share my writing from here, KnowProSE.com (more tech/DIY/OpEd), TechNewsTT (T&T centric OpEd), and wherever else I scribble an expansion from the void of NULL.

Here’s the thing: I don’t really know what I’m doing with it, so it has it’s own life. A strange one at that. And I don’t really care too much since I’m focusing on writing these days.

It’s a work in progress that has already taught me a lot. For example, despite having at least twice as many posts, KnowProSE.com articles tend to get more traffic because of the material. Let’s face it, what I write on RealityFragments isn’t for everyone – it’s not nearly as focused.

And strangely, the Facebook page has allowed me a certain amount of freedom. A certain anonymity, and it certainly has gotten more shares than my own network has had. I seem to attract people who don’t like sharing, which is fodder for another post in the future.

So far, after stepping back after more focused writing for about a week:

(1) For KnowProSE.com and TechNewsTT (the OpEds), my general rule of thumb is, “If it’s not being written about and it bugs me, I should write something about it.”

(2) For life, the universe and everything posts, I write them here on RealityFragments.

(3) As I write more, I actually share less often.

The last one – because people may think I only write what I post on one site or the other – is about the writing I do offline, unpublished so far. This is because I’m seriously focusing on my writing.

So, if you’re interested in this grand experiment that’s doomed to eventually becoming NULL in the great expanse of the Internet, go ahead and hop over to Facebook and like the Reality Fragments page. Or don’t, and only follow the relevant sites.

Or don’t, take your dog for a walk and think about something much more important that you’ve been putting off for days. Yes, everyone knows.

I promise you that it’s not going to be on any particular topic, a rare thing these days.

Undistraction.

Blue Bottle ExperimentationIt’s been 24 hours since I walked away from Facebook – and there are a myriad of reasons for that, but the one I’ll write about now is distraction. With roughly 1,200 connections – ‘friends’, in what Facebook has branded such connections – it got to be too much.

One of the problems with social networking platforms is that, as a business model, they cater content and advertising based on what you have done or liked or interacted with. It’s in their financial interest, and their bedrock of advertising forms a fatal flaw in the experience that most users don’t know enough to understand, and probably don’t want to understand in an age where social connection is as diluted or strong as the algorithms behind it.

I’m a big fan of strong connections. Of thoughtful discourse. Of wide and broad knowledge shared by people with depth and breadth in a world that doesn’t reward broad experience and only specialization. When one reads things, for example, that Richard Feynman said or wrote, you encounter an original mind, specialized in Physics, who spent time thinking beyond his specialty and into the realms of how what he was specialized in affected other things – and vice versa. In essence, he was connected to the world and whether conscious or not, it was a choice. I just read that he spent the latter years in his life working with Hillis on some great stuff, too. Interesting man, Mr. Feynman.

In finding myself creating thoughtful comments on thoughtless posts and comments, trying to maintain a level of interaction, I found all too often that the lowest common denominator wasn’t static but dynamic – where someone who was thoughtful would be momentarily thoughtless without looking back. And then I wondered if I was as guilty. There’s a want to be right, of course – no one wants to be wrong. And yet, there are many right ways to look at the same thing and it’s the intersections of those ‘right way of looking at things that has a sweet spot. The sweet spots are not constant, they too move.

‘Right’ is built on a foundation of sand, and I found Facebook was a bunch of people trying to create sand castles on a foundation with sand while others, for no good reason, might come over and kick their castle. It’s like what happened when children stopped being raised by televisions and instead by networks that they could interact with – where they could easily hide what they shared with others from brick and mortar society.

How unappealing.

And yet blogs remain, where people can be thoughtful or thoughtless – but blogs err on the side of thoughtful, in my experience, when compared to social networks.

Now I’ll have more time to write. “Oh no!”, some social media ‘expert’ might say, “no one will see your content!”. Well, shucks, it’s not like people saw it when I posted it on Facebook anyway – and those who liked it did not see fit to share it, even when cracked across the skull with blunt words.

Facebook is pretty fucking useless to me. Why spend time on it?

Facebook Page?

cropped-puzzleOnce upon a time not so long ago I began RealityFragments.com – an answer to my more personal writing in a time when I was chained to technology on KnowProSE.com, when I wanted a clear space to publish my less technical side and explore it. And allow others to, to allow myself to see who was interested in what I had to write otherwise.

It’s a bit over a year now. And out of the blue last week, Facebook asked me if I was the ‘owner’ of RealityFragments.com and allowed me to be in charge of the RealityFragments Facebook page.

I paused. It had happened because my profile mentions the site – it is, after all, something I do – but this isn’t a business. It’s not a news source in any true sense of the word. I’m not looking for writing gigs. Truth be told, I’ve been procrastinating successfully with regard to writing a book by kicking around book ideas for the last 3 weeks. So. Why do I need a Facebook page for it?

I don’t. But I took it because of the key issue on the Internet, on social media: Someone else might. And it has become part of a brand. Maybe even marketing of my brand for whatever purpose that has yet to be decided. So it sits there, this page, and I have no idea what to really do with it.

Facebook seems intent on me adding a button to it. I found it enough to simply upload some images for the page after I claimed it. And then a few people liked it.

So. A Facebook page for the site – something that maybe a decade ago would have been something people immediately did so that they could somehow do something that other people thought was cool. Now, it seems so pedestrian.

This is the first blog entry I’ll share there. And it’s not designed to do anything cool, but instead explain why it exists, and why I’m not too impressed… and why I don’t think others should be. Yet it has potential for non-Wordpress.com users to discuss and comment on things if they choose to. Invariably, someone will call me a liberal or conservative, someone will use Hitler in a conversation, and people will either disagree or agree with what I have written.

I suppose they can start here.

Birthday Media

Birthday CakeAt one point, I thought that social media was worthwhile in that I could tell people, “Happy Birthday” at the appropriate time, which I had been unable to do before because I simply don’t remember people’s birthdays – something that some see as a personality flaw. They made me think it was a personality flaw by badgering me about it – particularly the women in my life who, oddly enough, always hated getting older.

You’d think that women would therefore not want to celebrate birthdays, but that is largely not true in my personal dalliances with the female of the species. We’ll get back to that.

So here I was, thinking all these social media services actually were doing me a favor, covering a personality flaw – largely so people wouldn’t think I don’t have this personality flaw, that I cared enough to stick calendar dates in a rolodex in my head for people I care about. And it became easier and easier – to the point where Facebook offers me to post on someone’s page something witty like, “Happy Birthday”, or something wittier that I might come up with in the time it takes me to read and react. I think I’ve written some atrocious things that way, but everyone seems happy enough.

This all came to a head today because LinkedIn offers me to ‘like’ someone’s birthday. How cheap is that? All I have to do is click ‘Like’, and presto magico, I have conveyed that I care that you were born a certain amount of years ago.

Yay.

So here’s the truth. While I am no longer someone who subscribes to religion, I had the misfortune of being born into a Jehovah’s Witness sort of background – I had no choice. And while not having that choice, we didn’t celebrate birthdays. Why? Well, as I recall the rhetoric, “Jesus Christ didn’t celebrate his birthdays!”. Thus the same rhetoric for Christmas.

I’m not sure that celebrating them should be a sin in any religion, really, but hey, whatever makes you happy… I’m also not into a few other things being a sin, either. But let’s pretend for a moment that Jesus didn’t celebrate birthdays, even if it’s not true and there were omissions in the Bible (there weren’t potty breaks either, as I recall, so pooping could be a sin.) This leads us down a path where a calendar was set up BECAUSE the big J.C. was born, and a count was begun known as A.D. – anything beforehand, B.C. But that’s not accurate either if J.C. were born on Dec 25th, because then that would be the end and beginning of the year… and… that’s open to dispute too.

In other words, the reasoning behind not celebrating birthdays that I was presented with simply doesn’t make sense. Of course, they celebrate the death of Christ as well, as well as his resurrection. Absolutely nothing about his visit from the Tooth Fairy, or about a bunny hanging out, or elves… so let’s not go there because we may end up in a Mordor trying to get a ring into a volcano.

I eventually did have birthday parties, when people got together and acted like I was special one day out of the year. Just one. And I thought they sucked – not because people showed that they cared on that day, but because of the surrounding 364.25 days where I wasn’t.

So after all of that, here’s the thing. The only birthday I really cared about was when I was 21. I think the 23rd my auto insurance went down slightly in the U.S. – or was it 28? – and then the only way the auto insurance went down is by getting married. Clearly that wasn’t enough of an inducement for me…

And now, here I am, in my 40s, and I don’t care about my birthday. Sometimes I’m not even sure how old I am and have to do math – fortunately, we count 13th birthdays unlike how we count 13th floors in buildings, so the math isn’t tricky at all – and at a moment’s notice, I can figure out how old I am.

And I don’t care about how old anyone around me really is either. It’s not like it tells you how long you have to live – it doesn’t – but like Bayesian probability, it lets you know that the more years you live the more likely you are to die within the coming year. Think on that a moment.

So what are birthdays really about? About making people feel special, like you care. Like they matter to you on a deep level. How wonky is that? And this is why I think women seem so agreeable to birthdays despite the landmark of growing older.

Here’s my thing. If I’m not there for you for the rest of the year – if I don’t treat you like you’re special for the rest of the year – is this sort of like accepting your deity of choice, and begging forgiveness for all those times you masturbated, before you die? Try that last one without the Oxford comma. New dimensions to death. 

So, no. I’ve stopped clicking ‘Like’, and I’ve stopped posting atrocious things when forced to treat people like real human beings on what are allegedly joyous occasions.

The truth about me – as ugly as it may seem – is that I don’t care about your birthday. I don’t care about Valentine’s Day, for that matter, or Anniversary dates, and so on. I just don’t. Relationships are fluid.

If I like you, I at least try to be nice to you throughout the year.

If I don’t, I don’t.

And that’s that. So, I won’t apologize for not liking your birthday, or posting something on your Facebook wall, or tweeting something, or sending you nude pictures of me, or dressing in a clown costume, or whatever else, on your birthday.

Truth be told, you won’t even see me at your funeral.

Even if I show up.

 

Hitting Pause: Social Networks

3D Social NetworkingI’m displeased with social networks in general at this time, particularly after the last year of idiocy with the U.S. Presidential Election. It extends beyond that, and I will touch on that shortly.

I wrote about what I saw in June 2016 as related to politics in “Social Networks, Democracy, and Ethics” – and after the election, people are still wrapping their heads around it because they have been given their opinions from within the echo chambers of their social media accounts. It’s the allegory of the cave in that people are fed what they want to see, and it’s the hedgehog’s dilemma with a bunch of thin skinned and long-quilled hedgehogs.

Typically, I’m in the center – connected to all walks of life, around the world, of different opinions on everything. I’m in a prime location to watch people disagree, and when I try to explain the sides to each other I find myself tired. People are just going to have to figure out how to deal with each other. And, of course, everyone who reads this will think I’m writing about everyone but them when in fact the odds are almost 100% that I’m also writing about them.

The conservative that can’t allow for the free choice of others (ain’t that free will?). The liberal who pursues their ideology with the fervor of a zealot who, fortunately, isn’t armed by their very nature. The religious person who tears at science, the anti-theist who just can’t leave people be with their religion. The anti-Islamists, intent on calling all Muslims violent, and the Christian right, who has no idea just how much they have in common with the Islamists.

It goes on and on and on and on. And on. My newsfeed is littered with articles based on supposition and no actual facts, posted by well-intentioned people to poorly belabor their own perspectives.

The Internet has allowed these people to know about each other and, rather than hash out differences, it becomes a battle of tribes that I have lost patience with.

So: Pause. When you folks figure out how not to be assholes to each other… let me know. A smoke signal or something.