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.
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.
Now, considering that Daventry is a crucial Conservative hot spot you would expect a lot of campaigning by the opposition parties. Not so here in sleepy Norton. Sure, European election leaflets have fluttered unbidden onto my door mat but local candidates seem to be few and far between. Considering the election is only a few days away, the opposition candidates had better get a move on if they want possible swing voters to make their minds up.
I have no leaflet for Ms Collins. I knew nothing about her, her policies, what issues she feels strongly about or whether like Mr Smith she likes to have a poo in a field before standing up and fighting builders. With her fists.
So, using my l33t skills and well honed research methods, I had a poke about on the internet to see what I could find out about Ms Collins. It’s scary what you can find about people online, or so they say. Heh, that’s why, I suppose, I don’t use my real name online.
And never have.
Anyway, I know where she lives but where’s the fun in that. I mean this kind of information is given by the election’s returning officer and in the election notices. Turning up unbidden on her doorstep is a bit creepy so I wouldn’t do that. Although I suppose I could go canvassing. You know like candidates do only as a voter…Or will that get me arrested…Maybe not eh?
So the first port of call was Google. Using a bit of Googlefoo, I was able to find Ms Collins’ twitter account. So let’s do this in real time and send her a tweet…
I’ll post her response if it comes….
Her feed seems to be akin to Mr Chris “I’ll block you if you question my insistence that Margaret Thatcher was the best thing that happened to the UK” Heaton-Harris. Jokes, asides and retweets of the odd bit of opposition political linkage. Nothing that says “Hey, intarwebz, I am young and clued up about social media and know how to market myself as a potential politician! Vote for me!”
Nothing that says “I’ll have a fight with navvies in a field if they so much as look at it through the windscreen of a JCB”
In fact there’s nothing. Nothing political…Couple of possible leads but out of decency I won’t mention those. But I did find three Emma Collins on Facebook in the Northamptonshire area. None of which, look like the tiny picture above, they all look like they’re still in school.
Ok, so let’s check the old Twitter feed….
Oooh! Look! She’s replied!
So it’s off to the local press.
Good old Gusher. They are now part of Johnston Press so their website isn’t very good. Their weekly newspaper is often a bit low on gripping local news and is more akin to the old “Man who Once Passed through Daventry Met Elvis” kind of headline. But none-the-less, we should all use our local press or we will lose them. And then where would we be for news about Angry People, new toasters in Estate agents or cats stuck up trees.
Anyway, a quick search on the site brings me:
Not a peep.
A few articles containing the words “EMMA” and “COLLINS” but nothing about our candidate. Meh.
Maybe my skills aren’t as l33t as I think. Maybe Emma Collins is still waiting for her leaflets to come back from Vistaprint. Maybe she’s going to pull out all the stops on Thursday by filling the sky with giant letters explaining what her policies are. Maybe now she’s heard of me, she’ll take me up on my offer of joining me in the White Horse in Norton so she can tell me why I should vote for her.
Or maybe not.
I’ll let you know if she gets back to me before Thursday…
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.
Probably one of the most disheartening things about looking for work is the fact you constantly fill in forms with the same information over and over again.
Ever since I’ve found out my results, in fact no, ever since April, I’ve been looking for something work like to do. It’s so hard. Everytime I fill in an application I think “OMG I’ve had such a shit career how the fuck am I to get a job doing this?". Admittedly, if I was an employer, I’d look at my CV and say “This guy?…nah”. Sometimes I think maybe I should become the employer. Other times I think teaching. Maybe even a stint at Tesco or somewhere.
Ye gads. It’s so depressing.
And the longer I spend not doing something, the more my qualifications seem like a waste of time. People say “Oh but you’ve got so much experience”. This is true. I have. I am experienced in customer services. I am experienced in IT. I am experienced in wiping people’s arse for tupence ha’penny. But those jobs pay shit these days. My needs are greater in line with aspirations and the like.
So far I have applied for 20 jobs and not a thing from any of them. I’m starting to think these jobs don’t exist. And no…I haven’t signed on yet. I can’t face signing on.
Answers to comments to this post through LJ may be delayed.
Well it looks like the press (Murdoch) is worried that the Lib Dems are gaining more support than the press (Murdoch) likes. Judging by yesterday’s newspaper headlines Nick Clegg is a Nazi paedophilic ex-priest with sadomasochistic tendencies who would bring naught but ruin.
Interestingly, last night’s leadership debate took place on….Murdoch TV. Sorry. I mean Sky.
Mr Murdoch believes, I have been taught, that he has the power to sway elections and tip the balance to his favour. This, it seems has been the case in previous elections in the UK. His support for Thatcher during her incumbency and Major during his 1992 election seemed to show that what his newspapers said was how the voting public voted. Indeed, in 1997 when The Sun switched sides to support the Labour party it is believed that Murdoch’s media empire’s influence saw to Blair winning that election. Indeed, it has been suggested that his support for Obama in his American owned press helped win Obama his election.
Murdoch’s power does not stop at newspapers, FOX and SKY TV. Far from it. Murdoch controls ageing and failing social media giant MySpace something which he paid $580million for. Unfortunately, Murdoch is trapped in this mindset that as long as people consume something unquestioningly and uncritically, they desire something and it will never get tired . This belief, it seems, is why Murdoch was demanding to know why people weren’t using Myspace anymore without being aware of the transient nature of social networking and the and fickleness of internet users. Today’s Facebook could be tomorrows Myspace
[see Johnson, Bobbie (2010) “Turmoil at MySpace blamed on News Corporation” [On-line]
So use caution when you consume media. Especially in during the current circus that is the lead up to the election. Don’t take one viewpoint, indeed even my viewpoint for that matter, as concrete. Look around. See what the other media outlets are saying and consider who controls those outlets. Notice the tricks they play like using surveys to back up what they say – were you questioned? Did you take part? Are you in the minority? Notice how they build people up then discredit them somehow when opinion doesn’t go the way they would prefer.
I know some will say “Oh I don’t pay any attention to media” but I’ll argue that you do. Maybe not directly but the people you interact with may have. I know some will say “I don’t get involved in stuff like elections or media because no matter what I believe it won’t make a jot of difference. Well maybe. But think about how like shoals of fish all move in one direction but soon as the predator appears they scatter causing chaos and disturbance in their formation.
The other danger is that Murdoch strongly believes that users should pay for the content on the internet. Now while I like the idea of charging you lot 50p to view my diatribe I am an advocate of freedom of media. But then I am also an advocate of philanthropy, something which Mr Murdoch doesn’t seem to believe in either.
One thing I noticed, as a Television and Media graduate was how those in the production and direction department used dirty tricks to try and smother the Clegg message. Frequent cut-aways from Clegg when he spoke; the positioning of Clegg in the middle; etc. All pointing to the wrinkled digit of Murdoch. A dangerous man in fear of his public not following his lead.
When one man controls the media, the media becomes his voice. When only one voice is heard; there may as well be nought silence. Indeed, when I posted this yesterday on my LJ a number of commenters drew parallels with Murdoch and Italy’s Berlesconi. Both control the media to their own end but I fear the greatest danger is not a man who controls the media and sits as the head of state but a man who pulls the strings from the sidelines. Unseen. Unelected. With dangerous ideals and a belief that the public are there to be shepherded.
Answers to comments to this post through LJ may be delayed.