Yesterday afternoon, well into the evening, I had a long conversation with a family member who, for complicated reasons, I had never had the opportunity to speak with before – and, thanks largely to Covid-19, we had a video chat that lasted for over 3 hours. Before Covid-19, we may not have even bothered.
It was worth every bit of time for me. It helped me put together things that had puzzled me about my own life, and it put the lives of others into a deeper context than I would have expected. It put me in a context when looking through the eyes of those now dead, and what some of the things they said that made no sense to me at the time actually meant.
Pretty vague, isn’t it? Well of course it is. You don’t have to know everything about the conversation.
We spent a lot of time talking about mental health in those we knew – some mutual, some not, about growing older and how our perspectives change. We knew insane individuals, but to what degree their insanity? Where is the line drawn? And what good is being normal when being normal should drive people insane?
It made me think as I lay in my bed that we don’t discuss these things enough. There are many things we don’t understand and ignore but we should understand and should not ignore, particularly in our own family histories.
First, let me give some context: I have an Intel NUC 7 that has done well over the years to annoy the hell out of me. Between Windows 10 and the Nuc itself, whether it detects audio on the HDMI has been something that I could never get correct. It would simply get it right 1% of the time, and 99% of the time, I had to rely on a bluetooth speaker.
I updated the firmware, manually, because the automatic firmware updates didn’t work. I updated device drivers. I updated Windows 10. I did all these things with decreasing alacrity over the past 2 years. Booting took forever as, apparently, Windows and Intel could not quite figure out how to play well together.
I will tell anyone considering buying an Intel NUC of any sort to consider, perhaps, randomly giving yourself paper cuts across your knuckles throughout the day. It’s cheaper.
I shopped around. Ever since I did some work with a telecommunications company in Florida where Mac minis were all over their dev environment, I kept an eye on them and lo! The M1 Mac mini showed up with stuff related to neural networks. I like neural networks. They’re smarter than dumb people, generally, and what I have learned is elevating the level of stupid I deal with daily is all I can do in this world.
Nuc replacement? No. I’ll likely toss Linux on that thing where it can quietly do… something… without annoying me too much. I honestly have had such an annoying experience with that NUC that I will only sell it to someone I don’t know or like should I decide to get rid of it.
These things, of course, never show up in reviews of devices because it takes time to truly find the annoyances of any device, and you should bear this in mind as I write about the M1 – but truth be told, it has already begun to annoy me a bit.
The Mac Mini M1.
And so, I unpackaged the Mac mini M1 I had custom ordered (more RAM, more SSD, etc, because: because). I note a lot of reviewers like to talk about the packaging, and I have no idea why when it takes 5 words to communicate that: “It was hard/easy to unpack”.
It was easy to unpack.
In my mind, thoughts of someone in a sweatshop packing everything just so drifted through my mind, but I did not afford myself the luxury of that thought too much since the amount of packaging was minimal.
Next, not being an avid Apple user, I tried to turn the thing on which, of course, required me to read the 1 page documentation that came with it since in my experience there was an ‘on’ button on Mac keyboards. It wasn’t there. That took me all of 2 minutes.
It came on. It recognised the mouse and keyboard, and began the ‘new computer’ interrogation:
Where are you from?
What is your Apple User Id (or whatever the hell they call it)?
Do you want to… use this? That? The other? All 3? Just 2? Which 2?
I think the most amusing thing was that it asked me about Siri, so I set that up thinking, “Hey, did this thing come with an internal microphone?” Well, of course it didn’t, so the de facto world leaders in User Experience (UX) made a boo boo. It should have said, “Oh darn, you don’t have a microphone, no Siri for you”, instead of having me shout “Siri” at the Mac repeatedly.
And then, suddenly, we’re doing updates which are always annoying (who wants to start a new machine for updates? Nobody.) but they were relatively painless. It offered the latest Mac OSx version, Monterey, but I’m sticking with Big Sur a bit.
And then it just… Worked. And that’s what people want. We want stuff that works. It recognised my monitor, the audio – though for some peculiar reason it didn’t save using the monitor as the default setting, something I’ll figure out in time.
So, out of the box – I like the M1.
Then comes the wonderful part of passwords from accounts, etc, which is always a hassle, but that’s pretty much done – and then, there is the adjusting of using the keyboard from the PC keyboards to the Apple keyboards.
Ctrl? No, Command, which is a key over and takes some getting used to.
And lastly, the part that’s horrid about the M1: Some applications just ain’t ready for it. Android emulators do work, but not as automatically as one would hope. Some games are hokey. The M1, being out for about a year, hasn’t grown the support outside of Apple that would make it a real contender out of the box, and I imagine the marketshare is something that doesn’t have software companies racing to compete for.
So on the software end, it’s a mixed bag – and fortunately, I have basic needs of the machine that are met which make the inconvenience bearable.
It is quiet. Creepy quiet. The silence that when it comes with a 3 year old human makes you wonder what they’re into.
Overall: It does what I need it to do, and it inconveniently does not do some things (yet?) that I want it to.
The trouble with not blogging for a while is getting back into the routine – something which I have not been doing quite that well for the past few years. It’s been mainly health related. I’ve been driving through the issues, making myself my own project. The hardest part was getting started.
I won’t bore you with the health stuff. I will say it’s improving, from the treadmill to tucking parts of myself back where they belong to getting rid of infections (not Covid-19). The part I’m going through now, some oral stuff, had my dentist tell me, “You will feel like a weight has lifted off of you” a week ago, and despite my cynicism at the time, I feel he may be right.
This got me into reading up on chronic infections and their effects. It’s a real thing that we don’t think about enough, perhaps because when we’re suffering from a chronic infection our energy levels drop and self-sabotage sets in.
I tried to make it into a metaphor about life and relationships because that’s what I do when I am convalescing between being poked and prodded. In that, I failed, so we get this bit of writing instead.
Most of my life has been putting others first, which I do not regret. I tried thinking of why that is, and I came up with values that were instilled in me by society and those around me and a library or two of books. We all want to be one of the ‘good guys’, those white knights riding around saving the world from itself because our stories, our fictions, are about that. We love those stories. Like sponges we soak them in, and if those around us think it’s not enough, they do their best to shove more in.
There is a price to be paid, though, which doesn’t fall under ‘happily ever after’. If we put others first all the time, eventually it catches up with us, so it’s important to be selfish just enough to keep going.
Before I was so rudely interrupted by technology, I had written a bit about vaccinations and looking at whether or not it was sensible – really for people who were sensible. There’s not much to be done about those that are not sensible; that’s just the way humanity is and, should we have forgotten, being sensible isn’t necessarily being right.
Since I wrote that, a few things have happened.
Some old classmates were going back and forth on a facebook post with some amusingly open ended innuendo related to vaccination when out of the blue, I got a Facebook call from one of them. I normally don’t do Facebook calls but for some reason, I picked up because hey, it’s an old classmate, I wasn’t writing and I had sufficient coffee to entertain the thoughts of someone else.
Nigel, as it happens, had a lot to say. He went through the same process I did, he understood that I chose to get vaccinated because I’m managing my comorbidities. We had a pretty good discussion and even though he has chosen not to get vaccinated yet, I’m comfortable with him being sensible about his decision. His stance is educated and nuanced – he’s not a doctor, he knows he’s not, but there are so many vaccinations one can get and choices have to be made. Really, he doesn’t know which one has the most value to him, or any value at all.
We talked a bit about social responsibility, and the possibility of those having taken a vaccination – like myself – finding out that they may have made a mistake.
I laughed about this because, as it happens, the vaccine I did end up taking is the one that was available at the time and isn’t recognized by some countries for travel. Had I known more when making the decision, I might have waited til others were available, but the information just wasn’t there and neither were the other vaccines. Having recovered mostly from my surgery – I can’t go physically full tilt for about a year- I made the choice based on the information I had.
All decisions are like that, you see. Only in classrooms is all the data provided. In life, you just do the best you can with the information at hand. If you have lived long enough, truly lived, then you do not regret the decisions even though you may regret a lack of knowledge before making the decision.
It was a fun talk, really. It wasn’t a debate, it was an exploration of positions between 2 sensible people who have enough mutual respect to not shout down others.
Through this conversation and a few others, I came up with a quick summary of what vaccinations do:
They may keep you from getting as sick from new strains (individual level), and thus they may allow less people to be hospitalized and so reduce strain on medical infrastructure when a new strain shows up in humanity.
I happened to be at the hardware yesterday because I had heard of the mythical power of steam mops, and I ended up listening to some employees talking about vaccinations. There were the two sides of it. One or two were going on and on about how mystical and magical the vaccinations were for slaying the Covid-19 virus and it was a bit much. I would tell them later that they had too much icing for the cake.
When I dropped my summary, both sides of the debate agreed and that was that.
When presented with that simple summary, I’m finding people aren’t as turned off from discussion because it’s short, it’s accurate, and it acknowledges ‘maybe’.
Would I like to see more people vaccinated? Certainly. Does their lack of vaccination create a direct threat to me? No. Fear on either side leads to some really polarizing conversations.
The truth is that most people I encounter these days are a bit tired of being afraid. Maybe – and I say this emphatically – maybe if people stop being so polarizing, we can make some progress, or at the least, not be douchebags to each other.
After all, I don’t really like when people talk down to me, or shout at me. I tend to ignore their message.
It happens to me far too often. I’ll have an idea, head to a keyboard – there are a few around my place – and something will interrupt my flow of writing itself. Last week, I logged into my Chromebook only to find out that Google had decided that they weren’t supporting it anymore and that they would nag me forever if I used ChromeOS. This was easily beaten sinceI had Linux Mint on it already from years ago, but to remember the login information… update the Linux apps… what was I writing about again?
I shopped around for a replacement to carry around should I be out and about when there was something I needed to do. I can do most everything with Linux, but there is a convenience with ChromeOS for some things I do while out and about, so new equipment was needed, but not too much. I wanted a simple process for, as an example, writing posts like these.
Back in the days before the Internet, younglings, there were standalone word processors that allowed one to simply write. Before that, typewriters – Stephen King wrote about balancing a typewriter on his knees in the laundry room of a trailer when he wrote ‘Carrie’.1 Before that, there was pen and paper, and so on, and so on.
Things somehow still got written.
I ended up with a Samsung Tablet, a simple A7, with a bluetooth keyboard this time around, and was using it to write this – only to find out that the WordPress.com app does weird things with my keyboard (no other app seems to), which sent me down the rabbit hole on that. And, I’m sorry, I hate the WordPress.com app as much as I have the whole block thing. I just want to be able to write, not do a bunch of blocks of content.
This is why I often do drafts by hand, still, surrounded by all this technology, a somewhat former software engineer that writes. I’d mentioned that to someone yesterday, about my process of writing starting by hand. They looked at me funny, offering tech solutions to a problem I have wrestled with for years.
I shook my head and smiled. I just want to write, not fiddle with tech.
1 Stephen King, “On Writing: A Memoir of The Craft (2002).
You might have heard something about this Covid-19 pandemic. It’s been a thing for a while. It’s causes all sorts of people to say all sorts of things behind masks, in front of masks, or without masks.
And everyone, of course, is an expert except, apparently, actual experts who disagree with one’s point of view. Covid-19 had nothing to do with that, it’s a common human problem which oddly has not been as self-limiting as some would wish it to be.
Covid-19 is relatively new to us, and it’s been demonstrating all sorts of weaknesses in human societies, from medical infrastructures to economies. We’ve been wearing masks and washing our hands, and hopefully the rest of our bodies, pretty well at this point. From a collective perspective, we’ve done pretty well. The argument against masks – remember, there’s still that – is that they don’t block everything. Of course not. But they block some, and the whole point of that was to ‘flatten the curve’ – a trendy way of saying, “we just want to slow things down so our medical infrastructure can handle things”.
There are still people posting on social media against masks. There are still questions about it’s efficacy. Yet in the grand scheme of things, masks aren’t as much trouble to wear. People complained about wearing condoms when HIV first came out when there were a multitude of other reasons to wear condoms (STDs and unplanned children), but some people were still pretty strongly against condoms.
So, in response to this pandemic, very well educated and experienced people who don’t post much on social media because they have stuff to do have created vaccines.
There’s different brands of vaccines, different countries that produce them, and different marketing. We’ll get back to this
Governments have varying levels of access to different vaccines, and they’re trying to vaccinate as many as they can because that’s what we expect governments to do: To at least try to do things.
And of course, we expect vaccinations will help.
Generally, I’ve found both the arguments for and against vaccination somewhat dumb. I’ll explain why.
Bear in mind I’m no expert, bear in mind I am not pretending to be, but bear with me.
(1) The Covid-19 vaccinations are largely untested at the level that other vaccines have been tested. This is no surprise. They were pushed out fast. And yes, they didn’t go through the rigorous testing. Let’s face facts, we are indeed the experiment, and yes, the data is messy because we’re in the middle of the experiment. So that argument really doesn’t go to either side.
Compare that to over 4 million deaths in a year from Covid-19. So, if you’ve been getting your influenza shots, you have no business arguing the Covid-19 vaccinations from this standpoint when deaths are roughly around 800% to 900% more per year. If you haven’t been getting influenza shots, the same argument applies. Vaccines win here. And the marketing? The different vaccines? The different articles? Works in progress. We’re in the middle of the experiment and there are no good answers.
Yes, there may be side effects we don’t know about yet, but the odds are likely lower than the ones we do know about, and if not, we’re sort of screwed anyway, aren’t we? So vaccines win here.
(4) YOU CAN’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!
OK, you win, I can’t tell you what to do, nobody should tell you what to do. I agree with the principle. You’re all grown up. But if this is your argument, I’m thinking you spent more time deciding what to get in the fast food line at lunch than you did about the vaccinations. If you’re truly going to act in your own best interests, perhaps you should research just a little bit more. And listen to Doctors. After all, while they may not have your social media connections, they did study medicine for, in the case of young doctors, roughly 1/3rd of their lives.
So, all in all… while there are good arguments against vaccination, they’re not quite good enough. This is the what I did before I got my own vaccination, because I have comorbidities, I recently had surgery, and I’m not going to screw around with this stuff.
No, I don’t think it should be legislated, I think that people should have the right to refuse it. I do. It’s a civil issue. But if we’re going to have that civil issue, we need people to actually think about their decisions – and even then, I know it’s complicated and it’s likely to get legislated because people aren’t thinking through their decisions. A misfortune, really, because by not thinking through one’s decisions…. in cases like this… eventually, decisions are made for individuals.
I’ve been delinquent a while as I have pretended to live, going through the motions as I waited for inspiration to strike. It’s a rut that many people live in, doing the same things over and over, a life of repetition that some enjoy. I have found that I am passable at being normal. As a writer, I have procrastinated more than written. I tried using my other experience to help others, and I I’m not sure that I have failed as much as they have – there is a wisdom in that to contemplate.
In doing all of this, I have shot tendrils of myself out into things I haven’t done before, or haven’t done well, or could do better. One of these things relates to one of my passions, music – but probably not the music you might enjoy, those who find themselves neatly in a category. I am at home listening to The Hu, Marillion, and Passenger, to name some. The top 40 is a curse of radio in the world of social media.
My former music teachers in will tell you that I was a dismal failure, that I did not apply myself, etc. My former art teachers would say the same.A few weeks ago, it struck me that my math teacher would have said the same, and I am not deficient in Math. My former Physics teacher actually kicked me out of class in high school only to find out later that I was studying Nuclear Propulsion in the Navy. Why did I listen to some and not others? Perhaps who I was at the time, and who I was at the time is not who I am now.
At Karaoke, with enough alcohol in me a few that I know and many that I fortunately don’t have heard my violent and bloody attempts to sing, and some were drunk enough to appreciate them. Perhaps I’m not that bad, but the point is that I’m not that good and I’m quite certain of it. Still, I have a love of music – it has been my opiate when things are bad, it has been my pedestal upon from which I dove into enjoying accomplishments that few could understand much less appreciate.
As someone who read poetry under the unwavering tutelage of Tom Reese at the old Beaux Arts in St. Petersburg, Florida, a way of connecting with my mother who also wrote and read her own poetry, I found I had some oratory ability and with his patience and sometimes complete lack of it (those who knew Tom Reese will know well what I mean), but the expressiveness of voice was something I appreciated more than I practiced. I’m sorry, Tom, and ‘Mad’ Anthony Wayne Waite, my bill collectors made me choose the pragmatic path. Plus, I am an introvert, after all.
Thus, I found myself enjoying The Charismatic Voice channel on YouTube. A whole new world opened up for me. I began to understand how different singers could evoke different emotions and effect. It’s an amazing world. I shopped around for different ‘reaction’ sort of YouTube videos and ended up sticking with The Charismatic Voice, through subjective good and subjective bad. It’s actually a pretty interesting business model in that every video becomes it’s own ‘channel’ that attracts some more than others. Some hop. I finally did find one song being analyzed – one artist – that I was completely blech about, but as with writing, reading bad writing or styles one doesn’t agree with often gives us tools we don’t use the same way, or to different effect.
I found, as with most things like this that happen in life, that it made me revisit my own life soundtrack, a soundtrack of what I consider my personal whispers in a world that continuously shouts and screams. As we grow older, it becomes more and more difficult to do this – I can’t tell you how many times over the last decade that I have read new books on old topics and had to re-evaluate for days, how decisions need to be weighed differently, how I need to look at things differently, and now, how I need to listen to things differently.
This, I suppose, is what the elite call refinement.
So, there’s this sourdough bread I found at a local store, and I like it a lot.
The texture is perfect. If you toast it, the inside retains it’s inner texture while the outside becomes toasted – something I consider ‘proper toast’, which commercial breads generally don’t make well because they are mainly… air, and they dry faster in toasters, and they come out with the chewing texture of poorly made bricks – brittle, and a hint at something one could throw a rock at and just miss being bread.
Proper toast your teeth love. First, there is a satisfying crunch when it is toasted, as well as enough resistance for your jaw to slow ever so slightly. This makes for happy incisors. The bread then gets chewed, and all the way to the molars, the texture rolls over them in a wave of happiness.
This, I did not realize, is important to me. Almost 50 years on the planet and I had no idea that this was important to me. All those years of eating stuff accused of being bread by overzealous marketing departments.
So, thinking about all of this, I stared at myself in my mental mirror and gasped at the sight of someone I see more distant than I had thought.
Someone asked how I get through these days where people are forced to act like introverts.
I start my morning early, in the dark with a lamp behind me, reading. The light creeps into the world and begins coloring it with palettes beyond our eyes interpretation. The spectrums clash magnificently with sunrise. This is the signal of my first break.
The desk suffers only the electronics of reading devices, dominated by paper and ink. Different books grace it’s cedar surface over time as the world revolves, as mankind’s world spills through like the spill of an oil tanker, suffocating what is beneath it.
Our minds can easily become as cluttered as the world inherited from and modified by other cluttered minds. I don’t know about anyone else, but I have found it to weigh me down since my teenage years, so I normally shake it off with some free writing – something I call ‘pre-writing’ these days. I sit and write what’s on my mind until there is nothing on my mind, or something I find extraordinarily interesting pops up.
The pen scribbles on paper, these notes kept on the desk until something inspires cleaning the mess – and I leaf through them to see if there’s anything that is worth keeping. Generally, no, but sometimes there’s something worth fleshing out. This continues until it doesn’t, and normally it gets stacked onto the pile of loose sheets that accumulate. Today, it made it over to the ‘Keyboard desk’, the place where I interact with the world.
I’ve been speaking with a few people here and there who suddenly find themselves forced introverts while Trinidad and Tobago goes through increasing lock downs and now a State of Emergency because of the Covid-19 resurgence, and they seem desperately out of sorts at times.
WhatsApp chats flare up as the ever present harbinger’s of doom inundate them with every possible negative thing that they can share. As if the world wasn’t challenge enough, there are some who just want other people’s noses in it. “See! You’re depressed? Frustrated? Well, here, get more depressed, more frustrated!” seems the intent of those who, in reality, who should have been tested for their neuroses before being given license to use a communication device.
The sources of all this media fodder creeps in through algorithms that likely feed everyone’s favorite neuroses. I often tell people that if they are surrounded by information that sucks, maybe they’re looking for information that sucks. Garbage in, garbage out.
The mouthpieces of politicians will also have their say in these chats, whether they are knowing or unknowing mouthpieces, and the words of politicians are as distant to me as the worlds they live in are to my world. Our worlds rarely collide, and when they do I generally roll my eyes and sigh.
Also, I get copies of the local newspapers in these chats, in PDF form, and I wonder how that has happened for years when it’s a violation of copyright laws. For those of you old enough to remember the kind thoughts you might have had when someone propped open the newspaper box so you didn’t have to fish for coins, screwing over the owner of the box that day as people continue propping it open. That is why you rarely see those boxes now – and may be why physical papers are doomed. We just love sharing things, even when someone says they don’t belong to us.
People are anxious. They’re picking at any little bit of information they can find and magnifying it beyond original meanings. News from trusted sources is slow, news from untrusted sources is fast, and social media seems more of a curse these days than a blessing. People want fast media like they want fast food, and like fast food, they generally don’t care too much about the service. The rude person as a cashier at a fast food place runs rampant even while the lines for fast food stay constant. The same holds true of crappy media.
Why this love affair exists defies me. I never understood it.
The metaphor extends well into how healthy fast food is. What fast food does to your body, bad media can do to your mind.
Then, I suppose, are the editors that demand 4,000 words for a 400 word story because they need to cover more space in a newspaper or because their Search Engine Optimization require it – “and would you mind adding these keywords into the story?”
I have friends fighting anxiety. I advise them to watch comedy on YouTube, or do something that keeps them away from their phones. The reality is not that horrible, really. Cut down on physical human interaction, you’ll find the people that actually matter most in your life and, hopefully, treat them appropriately. The grocery story cashier. The doctors. Maybe the police, always the pharmacist for those tied to their life or quality of life through the threads of chemistry, pharmacology. You may be actually happy on the odd occasion you run into someone you normally would avoid, simply for that small bit of human contact, and appreciate them that much more.
Those are the relationships that tide us through some of the most difficult times. People who have not truly seen difficult times do not understand this – you’ll know them by their spoiled demeanor. Those who look down on others from a height, not realizing how fragile their shells are until they fall from that height and find no one to catch them. All the king’s horses, all the king’s men…
Isn’t it peculiar that these are the jobs paid small amounts, but the non-essentials make better money? Odd, our priorities.
I look out onto the road outside during the hours when traffic is normally high on a Monday morning. It’s quiet, the odd car dashing sprinting where they were doomed to crawling amongst the non-essential masses before. The birds shout and grow quiet, surprised at their own volume in the relative stillness.
It is about that time to write, for I have uncluttered now. The world as it is accepted by so many has floated away, the mind unfettered can do it’s work as it was meant to, and after 6 hours, my work will begin after some coffee, a read of where I left off, some bouts of procrastination, etc.
I will write til I can write no more, and then I will nap, and then I will write more or try to. If even I write one page for the day, I will sit at the desk for at least 8 hours today, occasionally stopping to look for a reference, obscured in my mind, or to look up something to make sure I’m writing something accurately or as accurately as I can.
The darkness will come, eventually, the light growing weaker as the day streams to an end. Tomorrow, the day will be the same.
One of the things that I consider just about every time I log in to write something here is how much the world suffers from incessant social media posts about the same things. See, I’ve been blogging since 1999 – and I’ve seen it all start, seen it all go crazy, and seen what it is today which, in my mind, is a hangover of that crazy.
I recall a period when I was a Communications Manager for a Drupal shop for a brief period, and the constant barrage of “we need to write stuff on the blog” from the CEO. Certainly, I found the CEO a jerk and even told him so in person in NYC, but all of that notwithstanding there is a constant pressure to produce when blogging because of the way it all got monetized. Being first became more important than being right – and I do believe that this has leaked across the media, where journalism itself is constantly on trial with a readership that is baited by headlines into things that can, and sometimes do, misrepresent the story completely.
I used to blog incessantly. At least one story a day. And where I ‘failed’ and continue to ‘fail’ as a ‘successful blogger’ is not writing about the same topic because I like exploring different topics, mixing them, and making sense of them in a broader way. Where ‘blogging’ wants me to be frenetically writing about the same thing ad nauseam, I want to fly and explore and take anyone interested with me.
Some people, I suppose, thrive on specialization, but some of us don’t.
The other side of it is the pace at which we publish: Search algorithms are tailored for more frequently updated websites to show up higher in search results. Everything is moving faster, but really, maybe it’s not a bad idea to slow down and think things through before communicating in any manner.
Maybe people need to think a bit more.
I don’t know, I’m just putting it out there with my own biases on open display. I write when I want to, when I feel that there is something to say, because to do so when you don’t have anything meaningful to say is of lesser value to me than a well thought out bit of writing. One that takes the reader on a journey. One that points at things and asks, “What if?”
Are we with blogs simply adding cacophony to this ubiquitous human nervous system on the planet, looking for reflex actions of likes and shares instead of conscious and coherent thought?