Posts Tagged ‘FaceBook’

2016: Traumatic and Toxic

December 28, 2016

2016: Traumatic and Toxic

Well, it was a year wasn’t it? A catalogue of death and damnation and one wonders, given we still have a few days to go, what else might befall the planet?

Many years are much the same as others, and pool and blur into an indistinct hue once the moment has passed. Some years we remember: those where we succeeded; where lives started; where we met important people; where we traveled; changed jobs, and yes, lost loved ones.

2016 could be called our global annus horribilis, just like the good old queen had a few years ago, when amongst other things Windsor Castle managed to go up in flames. 2016 has seen the passing of many of the greats of the entertainment world – we kicked off in January with the death of David Bowie, followed swiftly by Alan Rickman and the floodgates whooshed open. I am not about to list the plethora of passings – it is too many to mention. Some celebrity deaths bit harder than others and in our celebrity saturated world it became impossible to keep up with the tributes and the ceaseless march to immortality. Once rock n rollers died young or faded into obscurity, this year they died in greater numbers than before and not the young and not from celebrity excess. No, we lost them to cancer, and illness and oddness (Prince, what actually happened there?) and to a more limited extent old age – Leonard Cohen was in his 80’s.

There must be something in the air, some cosmic disturbance of the energy surrounding the planet, something that has shifted us off orbit and decreed this a year of death, disaster, and disturbing changes.

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Has this been a particularly savage year or is it just a symptom of age: of the age of the departing celebrities, our own ages and of our modern age of instant information? Once the spread of such news would have taken longer. But we knew within minutes of the public announcements that our beloved stars were gone. George Michael died on Christmas Day – we knew about it Christmas night. I was just getting used to Rick Parfitt (Status Quo – the morning music of my youth thanks to my brother, blasting it through the house as he ate his cornflakes, toast and Vegemite) being gone when there was George Michael, one of the iconic music figures of the 80s & 90s, gone as well. And, as I write, Carrie Fisher has died too.

Some deaths will effect some more than others. Yes, there was so much about Bowie, it was hard to ignore and yesterday BBC Radio2 was devoted to George Michael with a bit of Status Quo thrown in. Some of these artists had a massive impact, their songs marked people’s lives; they meant something beyond just great music and amazing performances. Celebrities matter these days and ones that were around for key moments in our lives are mourned like friends, are missed like friends. So, for some it has been like being in the ring with Muhammed Ali, whom we also lost this year, or the like – going the twelve rounds, getting knocked down, getting up only to be knocked down by the next death blow.

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Celebrity deaths are traumatic things but the increasing toxicity of the media is perhaps far more to worry about this year. Several brutal and vicious elections were contested. And to continue with the boxing analogy, the gloves were well and truly off. The EU referendum in the UK was vile and ugly. It marked a low point in an area of life where we have come to expect gutter like behaviour: politics. As you well know I am no fan of Michael Gove, and everything I loathed about him was on display; arrogance, lies, contempt for all and sundry, no care for ordinary people, only ever about his own agenda. Never mind that both sides ignored the consequences of a campaign run on sound-bites and misinformation, never mind that a politician was murdered and that hate crimes and racism has spiked since Brexit, all that seemed to matter for Gove, Boris, Farage, Cameron and Osbourne was their opinions, their agenda, their egos; no, nothing really concrete or honest about what was going to happen next. I guess the best thing was that many political careers were wrecked in this democratic farce but what are we left with in this brave new world of looming UK independence and the lurch to the ultra-conservative right?

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Across the pond the unthinkable happened and an ‘unelectable’, sexist, racist, hatred spewing geriatric was elected. How did the world get Donald Trump as president of the most powerful nation on earth? Would Hilary have been better? Who knows … But at least she had some experience and has spent her life in public service. The Donald seems only to have spent his life in service to himself. And why did so many people who were not his natural constituents vote for him?

No, I would not have voted for him, just as I did not vote for Brexit but the fact that so many did and effectively voted against their own self interests (you too, Australia) does make me wonder about democracy and the blatant lack of consequences for those elected on ridiculous promises they have no intention of keeping.

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Regardless of your feelings about Brexit or Trump, or about who deserves to win, what is most reprehensible about both of these elections has been the unprecedented level of vitriol, misinformation, false news and outright lies. But no-one seems to really care. Hey ho, another politician has lied. More tax breaks for the rich, more pain and restriction for the poor and less able, in the US, UK and Australia too. Do people get the government they deserve when they are so deliberately misinformed about what is happening and what will happen when the election is over? Do ordinary people really deserve this level of toxic contempt from those who govern us?

And let us not ignore the media in this – the legit media – whoever they are these days and the alternative media, who may or may not be giving a thoughtful alternative to the gate-keeper news of the big papers and big networks. Where does this level of bullshit come from? Yes, the various media and tech barons across the world. Do you really think Rupert Murdoch or Mark Zuckerberg aren’t influencing the masses, making normal folk vote the way they want? Mr Face-book himself needs to take a long hard look at the amount of acerbic vitriol that was parading as news on his platform, his octopus like platform with tentacles across the world poking into the impressionable minds of all sorts of unwary, unwise people. Does he think Face-Book did not influence the US election, does he really think his locks and bars stop the shit getting through? As to Murdoch, why is such an odious old man allowed such power, enabled by slews of policy making wonks to do his bidding?

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How do you tell real news from fake news? How do you tell what is a toxic real story and a toxic made up story? Why are we buying into the slanging matches that are the comments on various articles, where we seem to prefer to ignore the argument and go straight for the personal attack? If people disagree with our view then clearly they are stupid, and should die or be raped, etc. Yes, these are the sorts of comments that are now common-place. There is no space for disagreement, you are either with me or you are the enemy. And so we scurry to safe places, behave like snow-flakes, ignore unpalatable truths and live in an ever increasingly dangerous world.

Perhaps this year’s gaggle of dead celebrities have seen too clearly how the world is turning to the dark side and have got off?

It’s been a shocker of a year. Not one to be repeated, but I fear things will not suddenly be better in 2017. Perhaps the death rate amongst the talented and exalted may slow, but the toxic state of the planet is not going to suddenly turn and shift to the light, move back to some sort of balance.

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Your job, dear reader, is to learn from this horror show of a year. Hold your loved ones close. See your old bands and favourite musos before they go. Do your best to behave with honour and decency. Do not get pulled into the vortex of bile and slander, on-line or in life. Teach your children well, lead them to truth, let them discern the lies, enable them to stand up for themselves and what is right without resorting to violence and verbal assault. In the old Aussie Rules parlance, let’s play the ball and not the man. (Images taken from Private Collection)

Why FB Quizzes Are Good for You

September 6, 2014

I am:

Samantha from Bewitched

My Spirit Animal is a Wolf

Athena, Goddess of Wisdom & War

72% Right Brain

My Aura is Purple

My famous boyfriend is Robert Downey Jr

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Can you guess what I’ve been doing?

It’s a no brainer: oodles of Face-Book quizzes, like many others of you out there, because I get them from you. That list of results only scratches the surface! I have become addicted to them – not all, I hasten to add, but too many, it’s true. It’s not a good FB session if I haven’t had a go at at least one quiz.

But FB isn’t the only place for quizzes. I do the Brain Teasers in the Metro every morning as I psyche up for work; the Literary Quiz, Word Watch and Two Brains in Saturday’s Times and just to be even handed, I had a spell where I was addicted to The Guardian’s on-line quizzes, where I got scores ranging from 2/10 – 9/10! High scores were usually related to utter trivia… I never miss Pop Master on BBC2 when I’m home and I have managed a couple of good scores – 27/39 last time. Of course, there are pub-quizzes and all sorts of other places where you can team up with mates and pit your wits against others at quiz nights. Love them too – even when I don’t win.

There’s also a whole swag of quizzes on TV too. The old faithful reliable likes of University Challenge, Mastermind, Jeopardy and others like Only Connect or Eggheads, but that’s a bit slow.

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You could spend most of your waking hours playing quizzes. There is a quiz for every sort of person in the world. If you move onto Sudoku and crosswords and other puzzles there’d be no room for anything else in your life.

Downsides to quizzes:

They waste a great deal of your time

Many of them are excessively trivial

They mostly tell you nothing useful about yourself or the world

They can be addictive

They can make you anti-social

They can make you feel more of an idiot than you already are

 

But there is a significant and important up-side to doing quizzes and puzzles and it should console those of us who are starting to feel guilty about how much of our lives is disappearing in a fug of on-line quizzes and vegetative states in front of a TV screen.

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Quizzes (and puzzles):

Keep your brain moving

Keep all its synapses and neurons firing

keep you sharp

Give you new insights into yourself

Give you new information

Keep dementia and Alzheimer’s at bay

 

So, ditch the guilt, do your quiz, keep your brain moving. Remember it’s like the rest of your body, if you keep exercising it you get to keep it longer. And in this era of increasing dementia anything that fires up your grey matter has to be a good thing. (Images courtesy Private Collection and Non-commercial reuse from Google)

Dear Google, et al – Please stop behaving as if it’s the middle ages…

June 22, 2013

A few messages for the feudal over-lords of cyber-space on just why they’re really starting to do my head in… acting liking lords of the land, doing what they want, when they want and bugger the poor peasants- US.

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Dear Google

Just a short note to say I’m really not happy. Why do you keep changing things? I like my Gmail in-box just AS IT WAS. You’ve already changed it in the last few months and I’d like it better BEFORE then. Now it is horrid with your poxy arbitrary divisions. Now I have no idea how many messages I have at a glance and have to go into my mail too many times a day. It is highly distracting. Why do you think this is better? What sampling of the market have you done? Who is your reference group – not me, that’s for sure. Or do you think you know better?

This smacks of bloke decision making:

‘Oi, Bruce I think this will be much better.’

‘Yeh, Kevin I reckon so too. Let’s do it.’

‘Shall we ask anyone else?’

‘What for, Kevin, what for, mate?’

I tell you what, when you finally ditch my iGoogle home-page in November I might very well look elsewhere for my internet connectivity. Leave me be, I was happy here.

 

Dear iTunes

I am so tired of all your up-dates. Why do you think they are so necessary? Once there was a version I liked – about 10 versions ago but can I go back? Never. Why don’t you let me choose – you know show me the new options but if I don’t like them then I can revert to the old version I recognise and can use effectively. The music doesn’t sound any better just because you’ve changed some sort of configuration that makes sense out there in boffin land but not here in real time. Leave it alone, just let me be. No more up-dates, no more notifications, you just stress me out.

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Dear Word-Press

I love my blog – indeed this is what I am doing now. But you want to change things too. Why? I now have a dashboard I don’t like and don’t know why you’ve changed it and can’t change it back. You’re not that easy to make changes to at the best of times and while I accept this is probably down to my lack of real computer skills I thought that was the point of you… I, and countless other useless non-nerds could set ourselves up, make a nice page and write away to our hearts content. But I’ve never got my page quite right and you’ve never got the answers I need in a way I understand. Your FAQ page does zip for me and to get an answer from anyone out there in the black-hole of help-desks is nigh on impossible. Please leave me be to blog and read my stats in a non-changing, non-threatening piece of cyber-space.

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Dear Twitter

Why have you suspended my second account? It makes absolutely no sense. There is no threat to world peace, I’m not buying followers or aggressively following, I’m not tweeting offensively or libellously, or breaking any of your endless rules. I’m just poodling along with the odd tweet about living your life nicely and well – hunting the Zen Zone. Is that it – I wasn’t doing anything, I was just trying to be nice?? Please read above re Word-press and your FAQs and getting help too. What help???

Winged Victory

Dear Face-Book

Just stop. Be still. Stop thinking that the only way to make money or progress is to change things all the time. All this asking about what’s on my mind and sending through things about lifestyle and diets is getting on my wick. Stop suggesting I like a page and stop trying to sell me things. Not to mention all this privacy setting stuff that never stays the same for more than five minutes. Leave my Timeline ALONE. I love so many things about you but, as with the others, stop rearranging and re-organising everything. Why are you doing it? Is it just to show us you’re clever or is it because you don’t have enough to do, because running FB isn’t a real job??? Remember stop telling the people what they need – you don’t always know what’s best – not even Steve Jobs did.

Yours faithfully

An increasingly unhappy cyber-space-peasant who has no real choice but to dwell in your domains but that doesn’t mean you can or should take such advantage of me! (Images courtesy Google Images and Personal Collection)

Friendship – the art of infinite hope

November 18, 2012

I have reached such an age and lived a life such that I have friends across the planet and across quite an age range.  I consider this part of my life to be both essential and empowering. To have friends is to be affirmed, to be loved, to be accepted for who you are. Friends are as important as lovers and family.

Friendship is as much about forgiveness as about sharing and doing things together. We all manage to hurt those we care about, whether through carelessness, or some degree of malice. Being alive, being in relationships means we fall out, we drift apart: we forget why we were friends.

Watch small children, teenagers – what hurts them the most is not bullying (another blog) but when they fall out with their friends. They hate being shut out, ignored or forgotten. Often they don’t really know what’s happened or why – why the nasty comment, the not invited to the movies, the silence in the room?

As a parent the very worst thing is when you can’t mend or fix things for your child, when you can’t make their friends like them again, or explain why they’ve behaved as they have.

 

It’s also one of the mysteries of our own life – why do we fall out with our own friends? Consider the following:

Distance – when we move apart the closeness and sharing we once had becomes difficult unless we’re willing to work to keep the friendship going. FaceBook has overcome this to a large extent and we should be grateful for that but we’ve still got to post regularly and send messages to keep the love going.

Romance – this is a killer! Your friend’s partner (or your own) may not like you, or you them and it puts an enormous strain on friendship. There are ways around this, mainly to do with patience and kindness and a strong desire to keep the friendship going. Remember love is blind – for all of us – and sometimes your friends endure longer than your lovers and even when you do settle down you still need your friends. Being a friend when your friend has a boor or a fool or a bitch for a partner can kill the strongest friendship.

Core beliefs – this is where essentially you do not accord with your friend on a fundamental basis about questions of ethics, morality, politics, religion. If you see the world too differently it can push you apart. You can adjust to an extent but if it is fundamental to who you are, ie you are a confirmed tree loving Greenie and your friend is all for progress and business development then your friendship will fundamentally fail.

Trauma – illness, death, divorce, some of life’s nastier moments rent friendship in two. Sometimes your friends (you?) cannot muster the strength to be there for your friend when they need you most. Seeing your friend struggling through chemotherapy, getting over a stroke, dealing with the loss of a child or spouse can be too hard for some of us. We can hover at the edges, send flowers, bake a casserole, do the garden but when the trauma is on-going as these matters usually are, we need our friends to hang in and not everyone has that sort of stamina. Perhaps they feel that being too close will somehow taint their lives too?

Treachery – a wide and encompassing category. Sometimes our friends let us down so badly, they betray us so deeply it is a treasonable offence. The friend who steals our lover or partner; the friend who chooses the side against us; the friend who smiles with us but gossips about us; the friend who is so charming and beguiling it takes us ages to work out they are under-mining us, telling lies, betraying our secrets and trust. Treachery comes in many shades of crimson.

But sometimes, sometimes we can come back from these things, sometimes the core of our friendship survives. Sometimes, and usually this is after time has passed and the wound has healed with the scar barely visible, we can find our way to let our friend back into our lives. Forgiveness comes in many colours of blue, shade of forgiveness that heal us as well as our friends.

Time allows the pain of betrayal, of being let down to fade, and if we’re lucky the good times of the friendship find their way back to the surface of your life and you can have your friend back again. But perhaps with a more cautious heart… (Images courtesy Google Images)

 

Blog-free Zones – A month without blogging and (almost) no Internet

September 3, 2012

It’s back to life, back to reality, as the Soul 11 Soul song from 1989 went and I have returned to the land of Blog, from whence I have been missing – a self imposed ban, tis true, but worth it, methinks.

Let me recount the wonders of an (almost) internet free 40 days.

1 No time wasted pootling around all sorts of distracting rubbish on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter; or my wondrous in-box (which I normally love)

2 Lots of time to read – 4 academic texts with extensive notes + the wonderful Night Circus – more of that to come

3 Even more time to write – to not write blogs means you can write other stuff and so 50 000 words of first draft of new novel completed + 2 draft chapters for PhD exegesis

4 A lovely feeling of freedom, of being disconnected from the world, so no Olympics, no naked Prince Harry, no R-Patz – Kristen Stewart shenanigans, no GCSE melt-down, etc, etc. The world does keep turning without knowing all these things as they happen!!

5 No obligation to respond to FB, or email

 

So, it’s been like a return to another time, another galaxy where none of the electronic wonders of our modern world existed. Instead I read and studied and wrote all day long. Beloved plastered, painted, ripped out walls and re-made the house, girl-child helped too.

 

The Young Pad Wan played her saxophone every day, exercised and entertained herself with lots of self improvement stuff important to mid-teen girls. We played scrabble, trinominos and had fires outside and drank wine, talked under the stars and had picnics at the lake.

It’s nice to be away, it’s nice to live life differently for a while, to shut off the real world. You can live without all sorts of things. God knows I love my iMac and I love my blog – do I devour my stats and agonise over pix for my posts? Indeed I do, dear reader. Am I keen on growing my following? Absolutely. I love the magic of blogging, of having real readers. We all do.

But it’s nice to know that we can live without it – even if, really, ultimately we don’t want to. And still the spam and readers came while I hibernated. Spam count: 66. Visits: 783 – not too shabby for nothing new for Jactherat for all of August.

But it’s nice to be back, so, onward and upward: new recipes to come, some new pondering about life, love and relationships, a book review or two and some more wonderful general wisdomosity, dear and faithful readers. (Pictures courtesy Google Images and Private Collection)