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!)
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.
So, you might remember a few weeks ago I did a post about the regulation of social networking. No? Were you too busy to read it? Were you not arsed about reading it? Were you too scared to read it? Well in case you missed it it is here – (http://stegzy.livejournal.com/818818.html). If you never read another of my posts, please make sure you read this one.
Anyway, the past two weeks have been very interesting. Little stories tucked away here and there with one that I almost missed. But first, let me take you back to the letters page of the Daily Mirror of last Monday. Recently a girl, was found dead after going to meet someone she had met through Facebook. This someone curiously was a homeless someone which begs the question where did he get computer access from. But that aside, the police think he did it…wait…no…the PRESS want us to think he did it because he was arrested because of it. See how I’m falling into this trap too. He has not been to court over this yet and few details have been released, but the automatic assumption is that HE did it. But that aside, the method of how HE allegedly did it, was by luring an innocent teenager (who incidently was 17) to her death through Facebook. At first I was like “meh, another one” but this time I thought no, I’ll look at this a bit closer. Now, one of the ways governments like to get over an unpopular motion is to make it seem that their unpopular notion is actually popular. They do this by quoting opinion polls and surveys which back their stance (think Iraq War II and any number of other recent unpopular events) or by refering to what “people in their constituency” have said to them (like Jack Straw constantly says) or by manipulating the media to whip up a frenzy or moral panic. So when I looked a bit deeper, I discovered this nice little letters page –
Daily Mirror 02-11-2009
Clicky for biggy Ok, so if you’re too lazy to look at that, I’ll tell you what it says here. Basically it is a page of letters, unbalanced, calling for tighter regulation of, or the abolition of, social networking sites like Facebook. The people that wrote those letters are clearly unbalanced individuals and I don’t mean in a political standpoint I mean mad and possibly without the mental capacity to actually contemplate their own arguement. The type of people that only vote a particular political party because that’s what their parents voted for. Automatons. But wait, maybe there is the slight possibility that…..THEY DON’T EXIST and that the letters are just constructs of agenda setters bent on making the idea of a regulated internet and social networking sphere a socially acceptable one….Surely not…..but it is a possibility….. So I was going to not bother posting that. Until earlier today when I came across this nice little gem which I think you should all read…..
Again, if you can’t be bothered to read or follow the link, it is an article announcing the Home Offices intention to require all internet habits to be monitored. Of course, it is facing some opposition but, now you’ll love this bit, I bet you this….over the next few months we’ll hear more about criminals meeting through social networking sites, more about people getting murdered by meeting people off the internet and I would even wager that one “victim” will end up being a child….a beautiful middle class child………Moral panics…gotta love them…
Anyway, if you can’t be arsed to read this, the articles or anything else, why not be equally unarsed to watch this little film. It is the most interesting two hours I’ve spent in a while…..
Answers to comments to this post through LJ may be delayed.
It is worth remembering that while regulation and control are often “for the good” they can also lead to being a detriment especially when Governments become more controlling and insidious. So, while some of you will go “Oh yeah right…that’ll never happen” and “Sure sure” it is worth remembering that the all seeing eyes of the state are not always up front about their controlling of your media access and what you might call “civil liberties” and are often devious about instilling control through “the back door”.
So, watch carefully. Soon there will be increasing calls from “concerned citizerns” about the use of social networking; mysterious opinion poll results saying that the majority of the public are in favour of proposed controls, polls which you will never take part in but somehow speak on behalf of a majority which you are not part of. Watch for murders, terrorism, crime and fraud all linked to the use of social networking sites.
Think then about what you did before the advent of social networking and computers. Remember the smoke filled pubs and bars. The friendly faces you used to chat to while propping the bar. The cheery sign that claimed “There are no strangers here just friends you haven’t met yet”. Think fondly of those times. Think of them and remember, with horror, how a surprising percentage of local public houses in Britain have closed, changed use or been demolished over the last few years because of declining use and loss of business. Think of how you used to mingle with people. Local people. Unmolested and unmonitored. Remember too how we have sleepwalked into the controlling state. Perhaps then, when you talk to your “Ministry of Social Communication Certified Friends” or your ” Government Approved Collegues” you’ll remember together how it was.