I love these things. Whenever I go to a steam fair or county show, I look out for them so I can film them. There will come a time when these things will fall silent for the last time and I fear generations to come might not care to preserve them as well as people today.
Facebook is as bad for you as smoking IMO
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.
Star Trek: Discovery (I see you Clem Fandango!)
Stellaris (a Civ clone set in space!)
Cities: Skylines (a SimCity clone)
Reading lots of Reddit (using the fantastic Apollo app!)
People’s fascination with Tulpas
Creating backup drives using old SATA HDDs I’ve got lying around
Continuing to go through the vast amount of digital photographs I’ve taken and tagging them
Toying with the idea of maybe continuing the Music Project
Listening to lots of “Suggested” music via Apple Music on iTunes (https://itunes.apple.com/profile/stegzy)
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.
Hopefully using IFTTT will aggregate all my various social feeds to Tumblr and occasionally allow it to post to the Stegzy Gnomepants Facebook page (which Facebook have allowed me to keep for now). Alternatively, locate me on http://www.muckybadger.co.uk or http://www.stegzy.co.uk.
So there really is no excuse to not being able to contact me. Just don’t try doing it through Facebook, as I won’t answer.
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.
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.
Way back in the noughties I had the misfortune to work in a sixth form college. Regular readers will recall this was in the post industrial landscape that is Yorkshire. Cameron’s recent moral panic calls to mind the overbearing system of “safe guarding” that was in place at the college.
I must provide some back story. The IT manager could quite easily have been diagnosed with Aspergers had he been twenty years younger. He didn’t like change. Not one bit. Dingleberry, as I will refer to him, was one of those people who insisted on particular ways. Deviation from which would bring calamity, disaster and the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
For example, one hot sunny day in May he insisted that the units, switches, servers and tape machines in the server cabinet be taken out and arranged in numerical, colour and size order. Why? No reason was given other than aesthetics.
Every piece of software had to be installed with default settings. “Out of the box”. Same with hardware. I dread to think of the security issues that he made with such a work ethic. Indeed, such was the “DO NOT TOUCH” attitude, the Active Directory contained accounts of people that had left the college over 5 years ago. That is the level of finickiness he operated on.
One day a whole class got into trouble for not submitting their history homework on time. The students were required to email their work to the teacher who would then assess the work and send it back. Only the teacher didnt recieve any work.
The teacher was a bit shit to be fair. She, like several other teachers I’ve met over the years, seemed to suffer from paranoia probably brought on by inadequacies, stress and plain stupidity. This particular teacher was convinced that this particular class had a grudge and were out to get her.
Sadly this was not the case.
However what happened was much more convoluted than any of her minor conspiracies.
The class were insistent that work had been emailed from home. The teacher became convinced that the class were telling fibs. Eventually she came to the helpdesk door to see me.
She told me that there was a problem with email.
Not so. I told her, demonstrating how I was able to send emails from an external account to my work account with ease.
The problem morphed into one to do with attachements.
Not so. Again, I demonstrated me sending emails with attachments with no issue whatsoever.
Don’t be stupid. But I’ll investigate further.
I asked the IT Manager if there was any issue with emails.
None that he could see.
I asked the IT Technician if there was any issue with emails.
Only an issue with the space between the chair and the keyboard.
I asked the Server Troll if there was any issue with emails.
No but there was an issue with his latest game of Dungeons and Dragons.
I asked the head of IT.
None that he knew of. However, I should check the newly installed spam filters.
I checked the spam filters. Therein there was over a hundred thousand emails. This was going to take me a long time to investigate.
Turned out that the spam filters contained “Out of the box” keywords. A whole lexicon or rude words, curses, inappropriateness and the like. Included were words such as: Pharmacy, penis, length, cock, schlong, kiddies, nazi, hate, escort, kill, death, murder, hitler, vagina, gash, flange, white power, drugs and much much more.
So you’ll probably now have guessed. The out of the box filtering had picked up that the emails sent to the history teacher with the assignment on the Second World War contained foul language such as hitler, nazi, gas chamber, antisemitism. The very same settings that Dingleberry refused to allow me to change.
So I changed it anyway and released the history homework (Nazi, Hitler etc), the chemistry homework (pharmacy, drugs etc) and the biology homework. I released the personal messages sent from divorce approaching husbands regarding them picking up the “kiddies” in the Escort after work to their end of the line with you wives.
I added a keyword.
I won’t say what.
But let’s just say that Dingleberry no longer received emails. Certain…important emails.
I first came across Renaissance in 2002 when I used to subscribe to Last.fm’s radio service.
In case you didn’t know, Last.fm supposedly checks what you listen to and then finds artists you might like and plays samples of their music mixed in with yours.
The song that kept being played was Northern Lights. It was one of those songs that made me think “Here! I’ve heard this before!”. It was more than probable that I had.
Keen to find out more, I spent a week downloading their catalogue and rapidly falling in love with their music. Bewildered by the fact that I hadn’t actually heard of them before that day.
They’re a mix of folk and prog. Prog folk? Maybe. Kind of like Fairport Convention meets Yes.
No..that’s not it.
It’s similar. But not.
Anyway, make your own mind up and, as usual, I would be interested to hear what you think about them too.
My philosophy is that we are all on a journey together. We walk different paths. Sometimes the paths are close to each other and we walk some distance together before the paths diverge. Other times the paths continue on together for what seems like a long time. While walking these paths we make friends with our fellow walkers. They become life time companions. Others diverge, people we once knew that move on to other things maybe even a few we lose touch with. Some walkers on these paths reach the goal before others and they exit through the gift shop, picking up their celestial commemorative photos on the way. Some enjoy the walk so much that they buy another ticket and the path of life for them begins again.
Three things happened this weekend that kind of reminded me of how fluid friends are. The first was my parents. They are both in their seventies. My mum’s phone kept ringing throughout my stay in Liverpool. It was either this person or that person. When the phone wasn’t ringing, it would be a neighbour popping down the road for a quick chat or a friend just passing to say hello. I realised I no longer have this experience. I have not had this experience since 2006 and even then it was waning.
The second occurred because of a breakdown in communication. My paranoia rose and in the short space of a moment I went from a feeling of fondness to a feeling of slight betrayal about that person. The feelings of slight betrayal grew into a feeling of loneliness, because yes, even after 2 years in the midlands, I am still to foster new friendships to the same levels of those friends I left behind in Liverpool and Yorkshire. But the next thing to happen made those feelings feel selfish and insignificant
The third thing that happened was I had a message through Facebook from someone off the course I was on at Barnsley UCB. The message told me that another one of my friends, , had died suddenly in their sleep. He was 26. This kind of knocked me for six and today I conversed with the friend who messaged me about how quickly we all drifted apart.
I believe that Facebook (and for that matter, the internet) gives us a false feeling of connection. We meet many people through our lives. Each person influences us in some fashion and we develop our own personality from the sum of the people we interact with, both those we get along with and those we don’t. I won’t dwell on those we don’t get along with. In fact I’ll just say “Life is too short for grudges no matter what a person has done”. I think that’s the core of what some bloke said two thousand years ago. But they nailed him to a tree and I don’t fancy that fate so I won’t dwell as I said.
Sure the internet has helped us touch others we might never meet and, conversely, it has helped us to keep touching the same and those we may be never able to touch again because of geographical constraints. Like this blog. You, my dear reader, you I have touched many times.
In polite company I might be arrested I have reached out over the web waves and through your screen, there I reach through the glass of your monitor and caress the back of your mind with tenderness, showing my appreciation and love for you all in my own special way. We click. We share our experiences. We share the path together for some time.
Crucially the point is how well do you know people. Apart from your closer family and friends, when was the last time you met that person on your Facebook? Have you even met them? When did they last touch you?
Did you tell the police? When was the last time you were in the same town or geographical region as them? Did you even look them up? Would you look them up? Even if it was just for a five minute hello and catch up? What would you do if they stopped posting on Facebook, Twitter or Livejournal? Would you contact them to check they were alright?
I did an experiment this year. Back in the early noughties I was a prominent presence in the Thirty something chat rooms on Freeserve. People loved to chat with me. I loved to chat with people. Sadly, for personal reasons, I had to stop going into the chat rooms. Within 9 months I had a letter from one of the people who regularly visited the chatrooms. I wasn’t particularly close to them but they wrote to show their concern at not seeing me online for so long. This year I stopped liking and posting on Facebook. Nobody messaged me. Nobody enquired about my health. Ok granted, a good deal of people on my Facebook know people I know and no doubt I suspect they thought if anything was wrong they would know through them. In away, Steve’s death reinforced this fact. I would probably never have known had it not been for another friend pointing out the announcement on Facebook. Have we really all drifted apart? Or is it just my feeling of isolation that brings this to me?
So I now ask you to look again at your Facebook, Twitter and LJ accounts and friends lists. If there is someone on there who has truly touched you in some way or other
tell the police, and you haven’t heard from them for a while, message them. Let them know you think of them still. Don’t delete them. Don’t ignore them and hope they message you. And I’m not saying just like a post of theirs or comment vacuously on some posting of theirs. Make an effort. Email them. Message them directly. Say hi. Ask them how they are. Ask them a question. Tell them I told you to do it. Who knows, maybe I’ll get some messages too. The people we meet on our journey along life’s paths are gifts and guides to us. Cherish each and every person you meet. Listen to them. Talk to them. Share your message so they too can touch and impart a piece of you onto others. Without getting arrested.