Having readied the Power Armour and renamed Quincy to Dogmeat, I find myself almost prepared to take on any post-apocalyptic scenario. However the thing I cannot be prepared for is other people’s inability to act rationally. As a result, supermarkets and deliveries in rural towns are both empty and virtually non-existent. I’m already eyeing up the dead fly which is stuck between the blinds and the window in the conservatory. It should increase my HP by +1 at least.
For months, on the run up to recent events, I have been saying to anyone that would listen (which is not very many people I must say) that we should be hiding weapons caches in the countryside, ensuring that there are underground networks of vital supplies and intelligence and preparing to fight the rise of fascism which, it seemed was clearly on the rise. Yet here we are, teetering on the dangerous precipice of civil liberty like a foolish Instagrammer doing the planking meme on a rotten piece of wood over a pit of hungry alligators. Scary times.
I am already using the amazing skills I spent £30k on getting during the late noughties to analyse the media and, as suggested by my tutors, question everything, look beyond the articles and read between the lines. I have been playing a nice game of predict the future :—
the end of cash (increase of contactless payment, enabling the state monitoring of your purchases)
the introduction of state controlled diets (rationing because of supermarket panic buying, easier to control what you consume)
the end of independent high street business (restaurants closing, people not buying stuff and the migration to online sales, again easier to monitor consumption)
controlled gatherings of 5 or more (closure and monitoring of people irresponsibly gathering possibly to discuss insurrectionary and treasonous topics in places they cannot be monitored)
the introduction of home monitoring devices (Google Home, Alexa, Siri etc)
Sweeping changes in the law disguised as “emergency planning”
Shut down of democracy on local level (elections and “non-essential” meetings cancelled)
Isn’t this the kind of state control akin to China, Iran and other places that we have been frowning on for the past half a century? Paranoia? Me being driven completely doolally because of isolation? Overreacting? I certainly hope so.
Meanwhile, I am going to go about my respectful business in a non-subversive way. I won’t be hiding caches of food, drugs, weapons or ammo in little boxes around the area, I certainly don’t have any bright yellow exclamation marks, nor do I have any quests for you to run for me. However, I do have to ask, Do you have a geiger counter?
In February, with tensions high in the sales office (heightened by a distinct lack of sales calls, the removal of temps, a visible drop in sales attributed to Brexit, the falling pound and poor high street sales), I was called to a meeting to be told that my and five other employee’s role was at risk of redundancy.
Now, I’ve been made redundant four times previously so, as you get more experienced, you start to notice the signs; Whispered meetings, lack of work, telling glances between senior managers whenever future plans are discussed. So it was no surprise that Az (my manager) laid out the company’s situation and plans in front of me. A month later, after playing all the silly redundancy games where they offer you a role clearly not suitable for you, meetings to discuss what you do and the passing over of duties to others, I was put on garden leave with a fairly nice redundancy package.
This was fine until a few days into my break from work, it became frighteningly clear that globally, something more worrying was brewing. Covid 19.
I’m now on the fourth week of my non-work period. I’m bored, feeling isolated and unwanted while still trying to stay positive, focussed and constructive. Sadly, with the whole virus thing going down, it seems that the jobs market is already starting to show signs of trouble.
The business man in me says “Why would a company hire an employee now when the likelihood is that that employee could be forced to self-isolate and stay at home?”. Furthermore, why would an employer put themselves and their employees at risk by conducting interviews with complete strangers? (Which, if you think about it, is perfectly reasonable: An office full of people already immune to each other’s coughs and sneezes probably doesn’t want an unknown token carrying untold maladies being added to the mix).
I console myself in the fact that those people I left at my former place of work will no doubt face further challenges themselves: further drops in sales, lack of product being shipped from China, inter-office infections and associated absences and had I not been released when I was, I would be undergoing the same concerns I had then now.
But now the big smelly kipper. As long term readers will know, I have suffered from coronary heart disease for nearly 20 years now. I say suffer, that’s the medical term, I feel fitter than a whole Irish pub of fiddles. But by “suffering”, this allows me the grace of a free NHS provided annual flu jab. This, in turn, means that I fall into the “at risk” category which means that I need to engage with “social distancing” and potentially self-isolation.
Practically, I have been in self-isolation for nearly 4 weeks now. Apart from my Monday night Dungeons and Dragons session, the occasional trip to the shops, library and interview, and a trip to Liverpool to see the family, my social contact has been virtually non-existent. Then Mr Johnson says “Don’t go seeing people unnecessarily” which has put the kibosh on Dungeons and Dragons and with fewer interviews coming through I’m already doing a damn fine job of keeping away from the hordes of infected zombies out there. However, next week, it seems Mrs Gnomepants v2.0 is on leave so I will have someone else other than myself to drive up the wall at least.
New Year, new post. Not that I get much post these days. The very few sparse items that Postie posts through the letter box end up being either a bill or an appointment reminder. It seems that social media, computers and the social cancer that is Facebook have reduced the need for communication with distant peers to a series of likes and half-arsed comments. Gone are the days of writing a letter, sticking it in a postbox and waiting eagerly for a reply.
If you remember, I started last year with a Facebook abstinence with only a brief jaunt back there to promote holiday news. The return ended later in the year after someone found the name Gnomepants objectionable and complained. Thus ending a 15 year presence, and nicely timed too.
Since being Facebook free I have been able to choose and consume my own choice of content using a mix of Reddit (r/stegzy) and reading around subjects on Feedly, Wikipedia and of course LJ. Indeed, I have now also realised that Facebook is the new smoking.
Think of a time when lots of people smoked. A non-smoker might sigh, wag their fingers and tut, exclaiming: “You’re killing yourself, damaging your health, your lungs and heart. Stop it!”.
But the people that smoked would often just laugh, shrug and smoke a packet of Benson & Hedges at you out of spite saying: “Yeah, but it’s not killing me noticeably yet and I like it”.
I draw the same parallel with Facebook. Like nicotine it is addictive in many respects, the serotonin reward from liking things, receiving feedback and narcissistic forming approval, I can see the damage it does to the self if not to society as a whole (like passive smoking!). Yet I can see and hear the people laughing, pointing their fingers and saying: “Huh, yeah sure it’s doing damage but I can’t see it in my nice little enjoyable echo chamber”
Meh. Nothing I can say or do will convince over 4 million people.
During my free time, while my mind repairs itself from 15 years of Facebook abuse, I’ve been thinking about the good old days of communication, in particular, the lack of mail (electronic or other) that I receive these days from “real people” as opposed to spam and junk mail. Then something my parents once said to me rang true: “The only way you receive letters is if you send letters”.
As a result, I have decided that 2018 will be my year of writing letters. I will send, via letter, details that I would have posted on Facebook to people who, in the past, I might have communicated with solely via Facebook. This, of course, limits me to those people whose addresses I still know (or can work out), but I think it will be an interesting experiment. I bet they won’t reply.
Other New Year projects include
Getting fitter, getting rid of some shite that I don’t need and trying to get my finances under an even tighter reign, but more of that over the coming weeks/months. Of course, I have just had 10 days off work, so I might just be a little ambitious in that regard!
Other things being enjoyed at the moment include:-
Star Trek: Discovery (I see you Clem Fandango!)
Stellaris (a Civ clone set in space!)
Cities: Skylines (a SimCity clone)
Computery tasks and Internettery
Reading lots of Reddit (using the fantastic Apollo app!)
The time has come. The moment has arrived. 13 years later someone on Facebook has decided that Gnomepants was offensive and needed to be changed. Of course, I could have kept the name had I been the keeper of “official documents” bearing the said name, but I’m not, so I simply won’t use it. No loss to me.
Since then I have been trying to find a replacement realm in which to lurk and read facile updates from people to whom I used to talk to face-to-face on regular occasions before the advent of social media and we all became anti-social. As a result I’ve managed to get back onto lots of old social platforms most of which, recently, seem to have had a population boom of millennials all not using Facebook. Sadly I don’t know many people in real life who use anything other than Facebook to launder the minute details of their lives and all the social media sites that are potential threats to Facebook’s dominance don’t allow the importing of friends list details from Facebook, thus ensuring Facebook’s dominance. But no matter.
I have rediscovered my Tumblr account, my Apple radio station (Listen in Apple Music) and that I’ve actually had a Reddit account for donkey’s years (https://www.reddit.com/user/stegzy) and even a Digg (stegzy) and del.ici.ous! (also stegzy) account wow! I’m so retro. As I’m also “in with the kids” you can find me on Flickr (stegzy.gnomepants), Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/stegzygnomepants/) and Snapchat too.
Of course I’m still on the mainstream Social networks like (Twitter [@stegzy] and Google+ (also as stegzy) and also Ello and Diaspora (also as stegzy). Of course there is also Livejournal and WordPress (where I still post occasionally) and Blogger (http://stegzy.blogspot.com) which mostly features adds from Pocket and Feedly. I’m on video platforms like Vimeo and Youtube as stegzy too.
For those who don’t read my Livejournal, those who have only just noticed I’ve not liked or posted on Facebook recently and those who just don’t give a stuff, on 30th January I logged out of Facebook.
I went up to the little icon in the right of my Facebook page clicked and then clicked on Log Out. I did the same on my devices and desktops and I sat, twitchy fingered, waiting for the wave of withdrawal to wash. Fourteen days later, nothing. I’m not even cowering in the corner like a heroin addict from a 1980s public information film.
I have been reminded though, thanks to Facebook, that I have an account…AND…I might have missed somethings. M has posted an update. S has shared a picture. B was live. Messages like these, I had a few from the social network, no doubt in an effort to entice me back in. Even today, I received a message to tell me I had 19 notifications and 3 Event invites. I don’t care. I’m not even curious.
The sad side though, is none of my associates on Facebook have noticed my absence and if they have, they haven’t messaged me out of concern about my well being or to enquire my virtual whereabouts.
So I have a white F on a blue background shaped hole in my day to day activities yet I still yearn to share things like interesting links or thought farts. But thanks to IFTTT my link sharing addiction has allowed me to share links, Swarm logins and Pinterest pins to my Blogger account and, in turn, occasionally some legacy IFTTT recipes will post over to FB. Really though, I’m not arsed.
Then this morning, while trying to enquire about the imminent birth of a friend’s child I realised that the only way I can reach the guy and his missus was through FB. They were on Twitter, but rarely used it. The overwhelming urge to log in was, although fleeting, like when a smoker kids themselves that just one won’t hurt. But I endured. I fired up Twitter and fired off some messages. That way, at least if they think I don’t care, in several years time they might log back into Twitter and see my messages. Then again, they might not.
Instead, I have retired to former social media haunts. My feeling is that the love affair with FB has passed. With nothing to jump ship to, I have returned to the likes of Livejournal, Ello and I’ve even dabbled with other new pretenders to the throne. But the lack of familiar people on these new arenas just shows me even more how much of behemoth Facebook has become. Its vast digital dirty fingers dipping into every aspect of the web like a rot. But, I’m free now. Free.
It’s getting to that time again. That time where I extend my hand towards the local political persons hoping for my vote and offer them a gauntlet. That gauntlet being: Meet me in my local pub and tell me why I should vote for you.
Nothing more. Nothing less. A chat and a pint or two. Low key. No press. No song or dance. Just you, me, your minders if appropriate and whoever else is in the pub at the time. We chat politics. I ask you questions. You answer them. Honestly. Without the fear of your employers tutting at you.
So far I have made this offer for the past ten years at local, general and police and crime commissioner elections. So far nobody has accepted my challenge. It’s almost as if no politician wants to ask for my vote.
Facebook are enforcing their real names policy like jackbooted fascists. Pressurising members to use their real legal names rather than any assumed, stage or preferred nom-de-plume. Please see my previous post for their reasons why – Facebook Real Names Policy – Intro.
This is the second post of this series.
People ask why I use the name Stegzy Gnomepants. I usually say “Mind your own business”. Sometimes, however, I’m not so rude about it; the reason I use the name Stegzy Gnomepants is because people know me by that name.
I started using the internet in 1986, but back then the internet was bobbins and was more like Ceefax than the internet we know and love today. Back then I used the handle Stegzy and remained using that name until about a month later when my parents got their telephone bill and the internet was taken away from me.
Tardis yourself forward in time to 1998 when I bought my first PC. It was a Pentium 266. It cost me £1000 or there abouts. Top of the range. Fast modem (56kpbs). A whopping lump of RAM (something like 16Mb). A cavernous hard drive (approx 512Mb). I connected to the internet and restarted my online life as Stegzy.
Internet fashions came and went. AOL IM, CompuServe, that weird virtual world that Demon Internet had for a few years, Usenet newsgroups – all using the name stegzy. The Gnomepants bit came shortly after, when, as more and more people began using the internet, names were getting quickly claimed by other users. Yes, another Stegzy started to appear. I had to distinguish. Someone I knew then affectionately used to call me Gnomepants, I adopted that name as my online personalities surname.
This was the early 2000s. Then came Freeserve chat. I used the name stegzy there as well as evilgnome. Sometimes, for anonymity, I would use the name gnomepants. It helped separate my real life from my online life. It kept people from my work, past and those I didn’t want to communicate with, out of my online adventures where, if they found out about my activities, they would have ruined it. Ripping me away from my special place. My escape. My hide away. Where I was safe from those that would interfere. A place I could be myself without fear of judgement or prejudice.
Next came Livejournal. You can find me there using the name Stegzy too and all entries from there have been preserved here on WordPress too. That is when the real Stegzy Gnomepants blossomed. 2004 came and went. Sometime during this period a bloke called Zuckerberg created a service called Facebook…you might have heard of it.
So lets look at this again….1986 I begin using the name Stegzy. Stegzy Gnomepants circa 1998. People I meet on line know me as Stegzy Gnomepants. I spend the majority of the period 1998-2004 online as….Stegzy Gnomepants. Then some bloke comes along and creates a website called Facebook which nobody had heard of.
Ok, let’s carry on…Myspace – Stegzy Gnomepants. Hotmail – stegzy gnomepants. Google! What name shall I use? Oh I know, I’ll use my real name…Nobody knows me…ok I’ll use my assumed name….Everyone knows me! Stegzy Gnomepants.
2006ish. Good online friend Dan4th (Hi Dan if you still read!) tells me about some website where American kids hang out. Fascist books or Fuctbook or something. Oh yes…Facebook…I’ll sign up. Stegzy Gnomepants.
Blogspot arose – Stegzy Gnomepants; WordPress – Stegzy Gnomepants; Hell, I’m Stegzy Gnomepants on the BBC, Ebay, everywhere. Search google. You’ll see me using that everywhere and I have been for a very very long time.
Once more lets step back and look –
Me – Known online as Stegzy Gnomepants since 1998
Zuckerberg – Known online as Facebook since 2004.
Think that makes me win.
2014. Facebook decide that I must use my real name. A name nobody on the internet knows me by.
I teach Social Media for Business during the day. In my lessons I advise that to be successful online you need to remain consistent across all platforms. Use the same username where possible. The same avatar. The same contact details. Thats how people know who you are.
Mr Zuckerberg, if I’m to change my name just for your silly little empire, then my influence will have no weight. Businesses will not use me as an influencer. I cannot be a potential brand ambassador for your clients. I am the celebrity. I am the authority. I am the connector, the expert, the agitator. I am the journalist and the activist. I am the personal brand personified. That means my identity is nothing to you.
Yes I know you say I can create a PAGE but with a page I cannot interact with people as a person. Like things as a person. Interact, engage and amplify as a person online. Especially with products, services or similar which anyone can see me liking, make a judgement on my character. My beliefs. My choices. People that judge. People who I have no wish to share my identity with.
Someone said about my last post on this matter “If you don’t want to adhere to the Facebook’s terms and conditions don’t use it”. Something I am considering. Very hard. Perhaps over to Google+, who realised a very long time ago, forcing your “product” to use something in a way they don’t want to leads to failure. Isn’t that right Google Wave?
So when the call comes I will depart from Facebook. I will leave it never to return. You can continue to read my exploits here on WordPress or follow me on Twitter (@stegzy). Facebook postings will decline. I’m sorry if you, like Zuckerberg, no longer want, care or give a stuff about what I say, like or want to share with you. I’m sorry if you no longer want to fuel our social media narcissism together. But if that’s the way you want to play, I’ll let you take your ball home by yourself. Just mind you don’t trip over those toys you claim I threw out of my pram.
Recently Facebook began enforcing their so-called “Real Names Policy”. You might remember this making the news back in September when Facebook began closing or suspending the accounts of transgendered people and drag artists who were not using their “real names” on their profiles.
After the wails of protests became too loud for the Facebook PR machine to quash, an agreement was made and some of the users affected were permitted to keep their chosen Facebook names. (http://bit.ly/14YEmTy) However, even after the apology, the Facistbook Facebook name policy police continued to crawl the site looking for suspicious names. No doubt using some hair brained algorithm which looks for commonly suspicious names.
Often on Facebook, people create accounts for their pets and one of the more common Facebook profiles of yesteryear was Facebook profiles for cats. Profiles with names like Kitty Whiskers, Charlie Puss and other feline similes would be common place. Similarly Doggy Woofwoof, Rover Dog and other animals were common too. Facebook started to prevent such accounts being made but recently, two members of the Facebook community I know of who both have names with cat themes had their accounts suspended. So it seems likely that Facebook’s algorithm is working through its cat thesaurus.
Facebook’s terms of service state that people must use the same name “as it would be listed on your credit card, driver’s license or student ID.” Which is great. Except I know plenty of Mikes whose name on their driving licence says “Michael”, Jims whose passports say their name is James. Indeed, I know lots of people who don’t actually use their full name on social media because of safety, privacy and historical reasons.
For as long as I have been on the internet, I have used the internet name “Stegzy Gnomepants”. Why? Because my real name is, quite rightly, none-of-your-fucking-business. I have been on the internet since 1998 using that very same name. Look for me on google, you’ll find my accounts everywhere. Stegzy Gnomepants. Occasionally Stegzonopolis Gnomicpantalon. Rarely some other variation. It is my distinct expression of my personality. My expression of creativity. How I wish to be known on the internet.
I also use the name because I realised long ago, the only reason people need your name is so they can compile data about you. Attribute demographic and personal information to form a picture about your personality and psyche. Your political beliefs. Your sexual preferences. Your needs. Not just for marketing purposes. But for sinister reasons. As dear old Edward Snowden pointed out.
There is no need to create a state like the DDR in former East Germany. Not when people freely give every aspect of their waking life to those who want it but don’t ask for it. That is the world now. There is no need to worry about people communicating anonymously when they are forced to use their real name on services they have tied to one identity. We’re being shepherded back into a society that thousands died to prevent 100 years ago. Technology designed to promote democracy is being used to control us. Prevent uprisings. Quash political unrest and difference of opinion. Exactly how Egypt and parts of the Middle East failed to do.
Anonymity causes people to misbehave. Anonymity allows people to do bad things. Anonymity allows people to abuse children. This is what those whipping up the pre-constructed moral panic are saying.
However, it’s the opposite. It’s anonymity that protects us from surveillance. Anonymity prevents abuse. Anonymity saves lives. Anonymity is a right. A way of life.
So, the axe is about to fall. The sword of Damocles may drop at any moment and over ten years of Facebook usage is about to come to an end. I will lose contact with friends I have made long before Facebook because that is how they communicate. I will lose memories. Fond and painful. Over the next few days I am intending to write about this situation. Discuss alternatives. Express distaste and moot alternatives.
Going forward. You can always find me elsewhere. Follow my comings and goings on WordPress (stegzy.wordpress.com). Tweet me on Twitter (@stegzy). Analyse my mind on LiveJournal (stegzy.livejournal.com). Say “Hello” on Ello (@stegzy). Flick me on Flickr (stegzy). Hell, if I’m on it, I’m on it as Stegzy. But as for Facebook. How long I am there is dependent on how quickly their police come for me. Enjoy my last days there. Because when they say stop. I will. By taking myself elsewhere.
From MeetTheIntroverts.com 1) We need to recharge alone.
This right here is the cusp of the entire introvert v. extrovert debate (if there is one, anyway) – Introverts need to be alone to recharge. We tend to get completely worn out by socializing. This is basically what it means to be an introvert.
2) We don’t hate being around people, but we probably hate crowds.
I love being with people, but if you drop me into a large crowd I instantly feel like I’m alone and invisible. I try to avoid situations where I feel that way, so I may decline your open invitation to some random event. It doesn’t mean I don’t like to be around you, it just means I like to have more control over my surroundings.
3) We don’t mind silence. I can sit beside you in silence and not think we are having a bad…