In the Aftermath

GooglePlus is closed.

I finished my tweets, joining in with the voices watching G+ close for the final time. I knew that sense of community stayed together right till the very end. I had to go outside and just sit with myself for a bit. Everything had changed months ago but today was like being at the funeral, watching the casket being lowered into the ground and sharing that grief communally. I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t the only one grieving. Yet, outside it’s a bright blue sky. The rest of life moves on but this moment, I can feel–it will define my future for years to come.

This isn’t my first Google closing. I was one the beta testers/contributors to GoogleBuzz. That closing was kinda meh. But then I got in on G+ in beta. One of the first to have a personalized address, brand account, business page, I was all in-a superfan of Google products. At first G+ was meh. I didn’t understand the purpose. I didn’t get the whole circle idea. It wasn’t a blog, or a forum and it didn’t act like a bulletin board. It was something different, I just didn’t know how to make use of its features. So I treated it like Twitter before Twitter came along. I used to advertise and grow my brand off Google and I found that frustrating. I wasn’t getting the engagement I wanted. Facebook was far more rewarding for engagement in those early days. I could see the use of a smaller business having a GooglePlus Business Page. It was tailor-made for that kind of engagement but there was nothing to drive that engagement. It felt, incomplete.

So I pushed my blog posts to G+ and called it a day for a long time. I used the business page as a central website for my businesses. And that was that. I ignored it for years. I assumed that it didn’t have the engagement I was looking for. I assumed it was a good idea that flopped. I assumed that all social media was supposed to cater to driving engagement and business. I assumed that ad revenue and traffic was all I needed to worry about. I was wrong.

GooglePlus was not a well-developed idea for driving business advertisement and engagement. It was instead an unusual design that was community oriented that encouraged engagement as was as disengagement. It was human-centric at its baseline core. GooglePlus was for all of us, to use or not as we choose. And those that choose, found a home unlike all the other social media platforms out there.

Five years ago I came back to GooglePlus and I dove in. I engaged. I contributed. I participated. I shared. I created. I was all in. I didn’t and still don’t care a wit about Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or SnapChat or any of the new ones like MeWe. Losing GooglePlus has broken my heart. I didn’t really think that was possible but now I know it is.

GooglePlus was the framework in which I connected with and found friends all around the Globe through shared interests. And that is the secret to GooglePlus and why us, the die-hard G+ loyal fans were there to the end. It’s why we tried to save it. It wasn’t the framework, not really, but the connections and the ability to make those connections easily that we were trying to save.

Somehow the designers of G+ hit upon the magic formula of community. By allowing the users to create groups and communities while having profile walls and a very nuanced privacy level the circles allowed the seeds of community to flourish. It wasn’t overnight. It was a slow proofing, like bread rising before it goes in the oven.

And yet there is nothing to replace it. I’ve wondered since the announcement that it was closing, just how much data is going to be lost. There is no Library of Alexandra for the Internet. I think such a task may be impossible. I wonder if G+ was becoming such. Today, an untold number of accounts of deceased users are gone, their works, words, thoughts, are all gone. I know of several dozen and I don’t know what to make of the implications of saving them all. I think I could accept a data wipe far easier than to lose the framework where I’ve lost all my connections with friends all around the world.

I do know today marks a new era on the Internet. I know very few realize it and it will take years for the effects to show. Things have changed. I don’t like social media as I had in the past. I don’t trust giant companies for even the most basic of things. I feel lost on the webs. My data is being sold all over the place and I’m making somebody a profit, we all are, and none of us is benefiting from it beyond free access to this and that. I feel the weight of the machine pressing down onto me, turning me into another cog instead of an individual who has dreams, hobbies, interests, and has this growing need to make connections with like-minded individuals. Today, the world feels smaller. Just a few months ago, I had the world at my fingertips. I could connect with someone all across the globe and often did. Today is the day I say goodbye to that era.

Today, I say goodbye to the dream that the Internet would connect humanity together. We did it. For a little while. GooglePlus was the WhitePages of this time, this era. And now it’s gone.

To my fellow GooglePlus’ers:

Fare thee well.
Though the sun sets,
morning will dawn again.
Hold on. Hold to lessons learned.
We are all One.
We are Humanity.
This Blue Planet is our Home.
Remember, We are One.
This is Our Community!

Humanity is not ready.

With the closing of G+ I like so many of my fellow G+’ers have wandered into the wasteland of the internet to find a new home. I’ve tried on a quite a few different sites and platforms. The closest online home I’ve found has remained one of my firsts, blogging. So here I remain at WordPress. However, I have kept a foothold in Twitter. Mostly to promote my blogs, though I have no idea if it is effective or not. But over this last weekend, I jumped into the black hole that Twitter becomes from time to time.

I do not like Twitter. And it’s not the platform I dislike. It’s the people. I don’t like the people. And I laugh at this simple truth that I know most are afraid to admit much less say out loud or commit to writing. I don’t like most people. It’s very freeing to admit this to myself. And it is why I am saying humanity is not ready.

Ready for what exactly? Twitter gave me a glimpse into what it would be like if we all were mind readers. It would be bloodshed. The simple fact that most people do not like most people and having to hear their thoughts in their head will create aggression that only silencing those thoughts will calm. And that is exactly what I have been seeing on Twitter, aggression based in natural human dislike of differences. Being different taps a primal fear of rejection, taps an aggression to form tribes, taps into a very basic need to be accepted. And internet services like Twitter that expose users to mass diverse opinion will always create tension and aggression until the day humanity is ready to accept differences. We are not there yet. I’m not sure humanity will ever be there.

And as dire as this prediction is, science fiction and fantasy authors have chewed on this topic for a long time. They recognized the need to protect and isolate private thoughts. Not all thoughts need to be accessed by a collective. Thought needs a bit more refinement, a bit more careful consideration before it is formed enough to be exposed.

We all want to express and be heard but more than that we all want to be excepted for who we are no matter our thoughts. This is a difficult request to demand from strangers. But that is what we internet users are asking strangers to do when we use platforms that encourage off the cuff, knee jerk reactions to any sundry topic that crosses in front of our eyes. And we wonder why some places are cesspools? This is why.

Humanity is not ready to use the tools we’ve built. Not yet. We are slowly learning the consequences of not being careful with our thoughts. It doesn’t take much for someone to call for doxxing and have people pick up the call and carry it out. Mob justice is nothing new but what is new is how quick it comes and how easy it is to stir it up. It doesn’t take much for someone to call for murder and someone else, someone who they have never met to agree and then carry it out. Throughout humanity’s history mob justice has existed. It has torn apart countries, communities, families all for was is nothing more than differences.

Humanity is still an infant. I think we are reaching the terrible two’s where demanding our way and having tantrums are commonplace. It is also where we learn to identify ourselves, learn patience and form better questions. It’s also where we learn how to use the potty if we hadn’t done so before. And to take pride that we are no longer shitting in our pants. But humanity is a two-year-old, still filling up our pants and screaming for a lolly instead of asking for it.

The way I see it, we have two choices. We can shut up and not express our differences and keep it to ourselves and form society into some homogeneous form or we can learn to accept and embrace our differences. I’m not a person who takes the easy way out of anything. And I know most people are like water, seeking the level by the easiest way. Closing our minds might end up with a kind of Utopia but it will be static. Things that are static are dying. That path lies extinction. So, I’m going the hard route, we have to embrace our differences…this means we accept we are different and that’s okay. It means, sometimes there needs to be harsh boundaries that are respected. Sometimes it means, knowing when to speak and when it’s unwise to do so. It means, knowing every individual no matter their differences still deserve love and acceptance. It means, we must act in love when we interact with each other. We must feel this truth to the core of our being.

And this is why I say humanity is not ready. Humanity doesn’t love, not yet. Humanity is learning how to love, how to see beyond self-interest. It’s a simple truth, each one of us humanity. Each one of us is part of one whole. Our differences do not erase how much the same we are. It’s the way we deal with our differences that define us.

It’s the way we deal with our differences that define us.

So walk in love. Be careful with your thoughts. Weight and measure them. Remember there is far more the same than different for each and every one of us.

Just my 2 cents:

The MAGA hat boy did nothing wrong and was the most respectable person involved.

I’ve hunted the longer videos, read various statements, been all up and down twitter feeds. The insanity is real, folks. A red hat it all it takes now to condemn a man. Wait, that was a teenager. And they doxxed him. Targeted the wrong kid. Death threats pouring out everywhere on a number of families.

Until yesterday, I had respect for some news companies. Today, I have none. I see what Trump is saying now about fake news. This needs to be taken to court. These companies need to be held accountable for promoting lies and promoting hate and violence.

But there is one thing that still bothers me. And it is how many people became enraged seeing a kid smile in front of a man with a drum. It had nothing to do with the picture but with the narrative being told surrounding it. It never had anything to do with the facts. This is a story of us vs. them, of who’s in my tribe, who’s gonna defend me, defend us.

I can pull plenty of media moments far more disgusting that never had the reach or pull of the outrage machine. I think I know why. In all the others, the truth was obvious. In this, the truth was obscured so those believing had to believe on the strength of those reporting it. And in doing so, they bypassed rational thinking and allowed hate and outrage to grow.

We tend to defend our friends with a ferociousness of a momma bear. We also tend to not question them or fact check them. They are in our inner circle of trust so why would we double check? To do so would mean we don’t trust, right? No. We need to check every time and check our hearts too. Not because we don’t trust you, but because we can stay calm when you are upset.

The saddest part to all of this for me is seeing where all these peoples hearts are at. Some had their hearts in the right place. And some relished the attack. And others fell into line as mob justice formed. Others questioned. A few waited and watched. It’s those who waited and watched, thank you. Thank you for resisting the pull of being enraged. Thank you for your dedication to the truth.

As the media companies play on our emotions, we must stop the rush to judgment. We must withhold judgment until a time where we stay calm and review all the facts available. Our emotions are powerful motivators, powerful engines of change. Every one of us has the choice to master our emotions or allow others to use them against us. Yesterday, many had their emotions used against them. And I find that outrageous.

Found Wisdom

Found this story in an unusual place and it was credited to Facebook. It is too good to keep to myself. With current events and the news cycle reacting instead of investigating and then reporting, we need to be mindful of that which divides us as members of the human race. We need to calm our minds and thoughts before acting. Often, reacting is the wrong action to take. Stop. Breathe. Wait.

~ Are you a witch? ~

One of my friends told me about a powerful lesson in her daughter’s high school class this winter. They’re learning about the Salem Witch Trials, and their teacher told them they were going to play a game.

“I’m going to come around and whisper to each of you whether you’re a witch or a normal person. Your goal is to build the largest group possible that does NOT have a witch in it. At the end, any group found to include a witch gets a failing grade.”

The teens dove into grilling each other. One fairly large group formed, but most of the students broke into small, exclusive groups, turning away anyone they thought gave off even a hint of guilt.

“Okay,” the teacher said. “You’ve got your groups. Time to find out which ones fail. All witches, please raise your hands.”

No one raised a hand.

The kids were confused and told him he’d messed up the game.

“Did I? Was anyone in Salem an actual witch? Or did everyone just believe what they’d been told?”

And that is how you teach kids how easy it is to divide a community.

Keep being welcoming, beautiful people. Shunning, scapegoating and dividing destroy far more than they protect. We’re all in this together.

The simulation is breaking.

Well, well, well. What can I say? Take a look at this.

Here’s a little something worth tickling those watching American politics.
“Trump wants to build a wall…in the 1950’s” And it even comes with its own Fact Check article.
https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/trackdown-trump-character-wall/

Who says truth is stranger than fiction?

And if you want more giggles, just take a spin over on Twitter…

The simulation is breaking.

Perceptions

good_bad_quote_shakespear

Years, that quote above has driven me nuts. For the longest time I’ve continually argued that the thought is missing a key element. Even digging into Hamlet and seeing what it is actually referring too, does lend a bit of support to my view.

I guess you could call me a believer in an absolute morality, that good and bad are concrete forms and in a sense unchanging. In a strange way I am actually describing that I am capable of believing in something so strongly that my views and thus actions are unwavering.

Yet, perception is something I’ve been deeply acquainted with sense I was a child. I was in the third grade when I wrote a paper dissecting the advertisement and marketing principals used in grocery stores. Okay, I’m still marveling about it all these years for it was so accurate even after all these years.  I was the bullied child from my classmates because I was marked by adults as “strange.” As I got older and learned how to manage perceptions better, I walked between sub-cultures in high school without concern of bulling or any problem arising from it.

I’ve often been puzzled by my perceptions. For who I am and where I have been, I should have been faced with heavy discrimination, bulling, sexism, sexual harassment, and other varied form of shit piles. I do believe there is truth in the phrase, we often create our own troubles. And far too often we have our nose right on the tree truck and still unable to see the forest all around us.

Perceptions are like viewing a specific rotation of a kaleidoscope. Rotate it a single degree and the view changes, morphing into something markedly different than before. Life isn’t static. It moves and changes and having a single view of anything feels disingenuous.

We get to choose how we perceive the world. We choose to put on one of a hundreds of different coloured glasses instead of trying on various pairs.

I look back and I end up chuckling. I expected no issues of being a woman in the working world and I had no problems, for the most part. Until I encounter people who believed women in the working world were some kind of problem to deal with. That’s been pretty much the lesson; it’s not a problem until someone takes their problem and tries to make it yours.

This is something I’m looking at in my life. I first acknowledge that I can choose what my perceptions are for any given thing, issue, problem. What are my perceptions? How can I change my perceptions? What needs work? In what way will this change benefit me?

It’s not easy pealing my nose off the tree so I can see the beauty of the forest around me. I’m working on it. I hope you are too.

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