Archive for June, 2011

22
Jun
11

Fiction for Free

Just a heads up that I finally got back to posting some fiction at my “Tales of the Whethermen” blog.

Chapter 14 of The Gathering Storm, in fact, which brings us some time with Cole as he trains up to be a hero, Mad Dash and Ladykiller continuing to hang out, and some insight on the difficulties of policing transhumans through an interaction between a DA and a detective.

You can read it here.

If you haven’t been reading the storyline so far (and if not, why not? Get my fiction while it’s still free), you might want to start reading from chapter 1, of course (or wherever you might have left off). Full list of chapter links here.

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20
Jun
11

Something in the Water on Twitter

So, apparently my blog post a couple days ago (here) isn’t an isolated occurrence. My wife, Black Girl In Maine (on Twitter here: @blackgirlinmain) retweeted something that another person didn’t agree with, said person then making it into a personal argument with my wife and the person who tweeted the link that my wife retweeted.

With much the same result as what happened with me, there was much overreaction, twisting of words/intent and overblown mayhem over something minor.

So, I don’t know if there are leftovers from the full moon recently, the lunar eclipse, angst over absent fathers or deadbeat husband/dads during Father’s Day weekend, or the upcoming Solstice upsetting the balance of The Force…clearly, something was wacky in our online lives this past weekend.

So, let me share some thoughts/wisdom/randomness about all this (and don’t assume all of these have to do with what I posted about the other day; much of this is inspired by my wife’s experience):

  • If apologize to you, that doesn’t always mean I think that I’m wrong, unless I actually say, “Hey, I was wrong.” It may be an admission that I was partly wrong. Or it may simply mean  that I know you won’t let go of some imaginary shit you’ve built up in your head, and I’m simply sorry I said something to cause you to twist yourself out of shape unnecessarily. Or it may just mean I think you’re fragile and need some token gesture.
  • If I acknowledge that I may have done something wrong at some point in a debate or discussion, this doesn’t mean I have admitted to having been in the wrong. That is, I may have made some mistakes, but that doesn’t mean that the thing you got pissed about originally was because of something inappropriate that I did. Your anger may still be misplaced but I may have subsequently done something wrong in reaction to your misplaced anger. This probably does NOT invalidate my original point.
  • If I say something that you think is directed at you, but I didn’t name you in my comment online, you should NOT assume it was about you. You are not the center of the universe. If I have more than a handful of people following/reading my stuff, there’s a decent chance I’m talking about someone else. I might even be talking about someone in the physical world as opposed to our shared online world.
  • If I continue to be in a discussion or debate with you explaining my position, my continued efforts to explain my position or describe what happened is not some automatic, tacit admission that I “know I did wrong” and am now trying to redirect blame or save face. It may simply be that I don’t think you understand what’s going on or that you’re not listening to me.
  • Picking fights with someone on Twitter or on a blog with way more followers than you have in order to gain “street cred” or get a reputation or draw in new followers isn’t cool. If you can only get people to flock to you by creating artificial drama, you aren’t real…and thus you aren’t worth flocking to.
  • Continuing to hold to your position without budging one iota, particularly if I’ve made some concessions myself along the way in our discussion or debate, doesn’t make you right. Chances are, it just makes you stubborn.
  • If you defend someone, assigning them no blame and me all of the blame, you are in no position to claim that you have not taken sides, nor are you in a position to criticize me for having come down on the side of the person whom I am defending. Because you’re doing the same thing.
  • Passive-aggressive sniping isn’t cool. Be direct. Insult me or criticize me directly. Don’t make backhand compliments or personal attacks on issues that have nothing to do with our discussion.
  • People who overreact to harmless comments make themsleves easy targets. But we shouldn’t take too many easy shots just because they have made themselves easy picking, when we can just walk away instead.

And if you’re anyone online with whom I personally have jousted this weekend, kindly don’t react or respond to any of these points with any reference to our original discussion, whether direct or oblique (that also goes for anyone whom I may have defended or with whom I may have allied). Some of them apply to our discussions, some apply to my wife’s, and some may apply to both. But I don’t want to go in circles over old material, nor do I want to explain to you which of these you inspired. I point out bad behavior in religion and politics around here, for example, and right now I’m pointing out bad behavior online.

Shit, to be honest, the above points apply to a lot of things I’ve seen for years now on Twitter, on Facebook, in discussion forums or on blogs even in discussions in which I was merely a spectator or minor player, and would apply to things I’ve faced before this weekend. I think they are good points for all of us to keep in mind online.

And yes, I’ve made some of the above mistakes at times. But I don’t make them habitually, and those of you who might read this who do perform them habitually, please just stop. Just. Fucking. Stop.

18
Jun
11

Online Doesn’t Mean a License to Let Your Nutso Hang Out

I had one of the single weirdest online experiences in a long time begin last night on Twitter and extend into today. Let me share the generalities without naming names, for general entertainment and venting value, and perhaps impart some social media wisdom on the rest of you. I’m not perfect, but I think I have some Twitter moral high ground here at least in part.

I hesitate to even bring this up after everything dying down, since the people involved  may very well read this, but I think there may be value in this blog post.

So, some background:

One of my tweeps (we’ll call her Scarlet) posted late last night something to the effect of: Oh my god I apparently just broke a cardinal rule of Twitter. Wish there was a handbook.

Me and at least one of her other tweeps asked what had happened.

She told us, without mentioning the name of the other person on Twitter whom she had apparently offended (whom we’ll call MommyBlogger), that she had made what she thought was a light joke, and got scolded heavily for it.

Apparently, MommyBlogger had complimented Scarlet about a blog post or something. Scarlet joked that she assumes all new follower now are ‘bots (a good assumption…most of mine are) and that at first she thought MommyBlogger was a ‘bot. She further joked that “if you’re a ‘bot, at least you’re a very nice ‘bot.”

Most of us, I think, can see clearly that light sarcasm was involved, and it was clear Scarlet knew MommyBlogger wasn’t a ‘bot. After all, ‘bots don’t carry on conversations. However, MommyBlogger got mad and said that Scarlet was inconsiderate and had accused her of being a ‘bot in the open Twitter timeline.

Now, at this point, Scarlet hadn’t named any names; just told us what had happened. I tweeted to her that it’s a shame that happened and if the other person didn’t accept the apology, it might mean she was the inconsiderate one.

At this point, I think I’m done. Tweep in slight emotional distress and virtual hug/commiseration offered.

Then I go to the tab on Twitter for people who have mentioned me and see two tweets from MommyBlogger (whom I do not follow and who doesn’t follow me) who basically tells me, over the course of those tweets, not to trust what Scarlet is saying and that Scarlet accused of her of being a ‘bot publicly and was inconsiderate and unabashed.

OK, so now I’m curious. Because I don’t follow both of them (only Scarlet), their conversation wasn’t in my timeline. But now with my tweep seeming to be embarrassed and confused, and a stranger saying she’s being disingenuous, I go into both of their timelines and scroll way down to find out what they said to each other.

Near as I can see, Scarlet hadn’t been mean, was clearly making a lighthearted joke (not an accusation or anything that could be construed as one) and apologized several times (which she didn’t have to do to this person she’d only just met online if she didn’t take her feelings seriously). MommyBlogger, on the other hand, seems (to my perceptions) to be focused on making Scarlet feel bad and accusing her and telling her the apology is inadequate, instead of accepting any responsibility for overreacting.

Since MommyBlogger has now jumped into my Twitter timeline to make accusations, I send a tweet to her, saying it seemed pretty clear to me that Scarlet was making an obvious joke, not an accusation, and suggested to MommyBlogger that perhaps she’s in a stressful state right now to be seeing things otherwise.

The response I got back was one that, while short, seemed to drip in snark, telling me, essentially. “A mom stressed? Of course moms are stressed”

To which I respond to the effect of: “I know, my wife is often stressed, too, and so am I, being a work-at-home dad with an almost 6-year-old.”

We traded a few tweets. I don’t recall the specifics. It was late, and I’ve since blocked her, so I can’t even see the old messages. But I do recall that she seemed to be very defensive and kind of abusive, actually. I finally told her I thought she was thin-skinned, judgmental and inconsiderate herself, and then blocked her so that I wouldn’t have to see any of her messages in my timeline ever again.

I tell Scarlet to stop worrying, as this woman is clearly off the rails and there’s no reason to lose sleep over someone who’s so petty. Another mutual tweep of ours asks who the person was that Scarlet upset, and I decline to share the name, as I think it would be petty to put her name out publicly. So far, everything has been semi-private, since MommyBlogger and I didn’t share any tweeps, and someone would have to go into our timelines deliberately to even see what words had passed between us.

I think that I’m done. I don’t want a public mess, and to my mind, I’ve prevented one by blocking MommyBlogger and stepping out before she pissed me off more and made me want to publicly shame her.

Oh, no. This morning, I get tweets from someone on MommyBlogger’s side who takes me to task for having called her names. I can only assume that this new person, whom I’ll call ThirdParty, was either contacted by MommyBlogger for defense and support against the cold cruel world, or that ThirdParty reads MommyBlogger’s timeline very thoroughly (I don’t know who would have time for such activity, but I’m sure someone does that).

I spend way too much of my day trying to explain what happened to this new person and, as you can see from the above, the complexities are not easy to fit into 140-character snippets. We never reach agreement. She doesn’t see any of the defensiveness and shallowness that I see in MommyBlogger and thinks that Scarlet and I are the overly defensive ones.

Whatever. The back and forth seems to have stopped (though ThirdParty says some of Scarlet’s friends were bashing MommyBlogger on Twitter. I don’t know if that happened or not, since none of those people are anyone who follows me or whom I follow, as far as I know), and I’m hoping it’s all done for good.

But, that scintillating tale of Twitter soap opera aside, I think I have some advice for people in general, especially people like MommyBlogger:

  • If someone says something you think is mean, express that nicely and ask, did you just say what I think you said? (or something to that effect). Then listen to the person’s explanation and/or apology. Chances are, if they apologize at all, even if you don’t think they apologized enough, you should probably let it go. In my experience, total dickheads don’t say “I’m sorry” at all. They certainly don’t do it multiple times as Scarlet did, and then fret to her tweeps that she seems to have violated some kind of Twitter etiquette.
  • When people you don’t know on Twitter are consoling the person you seem to think has offended you, don’t go into their timelines to turn them against that person, particularly when they don’t know who the hell you are. By invading my timeline to talk nasty about one of MY tweeps, you then put me in a position of wanting to find out what was going on, and you have essentially invited me in to examine things, and possibly make judgments about you. It’s like meeting someone, deciding you don’t like them, and then waiting outside their workplace to tell co-workers and others who see that person most days, “That person is evil!” The reaction, of course, is probably going to be to treat you like a crazy person.
  • But most of all, stop taking this shit so seriously. Even if you think you’ve been insulted online or called something you’re not, block the person. I certainly blocked MommyBlogger after a few tweets illustrated to me that she was probably toxic. I don’t have time for toxic people. If MommyBlogger thought Scarlet was toxic, she should have blocked her, not made a big to-do that drags in innocent bystanders.

In the end, perhaps I called MommyBlogger names that I shouldn’t have. Mea culpa. When someone starts making me uncomfortable, I react. I may have overreacted. But that doesn’t make MommyBlogger blameless in this. There are no saints. There are just people who sinned more than others did, and I have my opinions as to who that would be, which may differ from other people’s opinions.

But damn it, this is social media. You don’t like the company, go away from them. Or deal with them directly. Handle your own shit, and leave the rest of us out of it. Although I should probably at least thank MommyBlogger for giving me a new follower, since ThirdParty has apparently decided to follow me on Twitter despite thinking I’m a nice but totally misguided and possibly rude fellow at times…and I have a blog post for tonight because of all of this.

G’nite folks…

16
Jun
11

And…Tony Goes Limp

So, New York Rep. Anthony Weiner has backed off his assertion that he would not resign, and is now resigning over the whole “scandal” of tweeting flirtatious pictures of his man parts.

I’m not surprised. Dismayed, but not surprised.

But let’s clear up some things.

The media continuing to harp on the debacle is not, I believe, an example of right-wing, greedy, GOP-friendly corporate businessmen who own the media outlets purposefully sinking Rep. Weiner.

They don’t need to. Look, liberal and moderate members of the media feel the stings every day of being called “left-wing” and being told that there is a clear “liberal bias” in the news media, and so they don’t need any prodding to bend over backwards to prove that they aren’t liberal but are instead balanced, and they often do so by giving conservatives a pass and piling on the liberals. It’s not a conspiracy. It’s human nature and a dash of cowardice.

Much like the Democrats not making stands against Republican crook, liars, cheats and killers and instead shredding one of their own to make a point that “See, we take morality and ethics seriously.” They keep doing so thinking that the Republicans will return the favor, but it ain’t gonna happen. That also isn’t a conspiracy. It’s mere stupidity.

Now, on to another issue: Hypocrisy.

Yes, I totally feel you, my fellow moderate and/or liberal friends, real-life and virtual, who are venting your spleens on Twitter and in person to lament how war criminals (like former President George W. Bush and former V.P. Dick Cheney) can lie through their teeth and bankrupt the nation to go to war, but face no charges, while a Democratic politician is forced out of office for sexting.

Yes, I agree that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas isn’t just an asshole but also a crook and liar who’s hiding money and has been covering up conflicts of interest that should get him impeached and tossed off the bench. While a legislative sex scandal gets blown out of proportion and no one can work up the interest to investigate or care about the bigger problem on the judicial side.

I agree with all these things.

But it changes nothing about the fact that Weiner is a cowardly little dick and an obvious, transparent liar.

There, I said it.

His lies are smaller than those of Bush, Cheney, Thomas or a host of others. But still, he brought this on himself.

Many thought (and some still do) that Bush and Cheney were being honest when they went to war. Thomas apparently kept his conflicts of interest quiet enough not to draw attention. Because of that, the onus of anyone wanting to take them down is not only to plow through a political jungle but also to prove that those guys broke the law.

Weiner, however, did something stupid and then lied about it. Lied about it even though it was abundantly clear, or certainly SHOULD have been, that he was going to be revealed as having done just what he said he didn’t do. And he should have known it was going to happen very soon.

So, instead of fessing up, he evaded questions, did some fancy wordplay, made up excuses about being hacked, and basically put all the tinder and firewood all around him for his own immolation at the stake.

What’s worst is that it was obvious almost from the start that he was hiding something (and probably lying outright) and possibly even more was happening than we knew. The very day shit was going down, I had serious doubts about his veracity. By the next day or two, it was abundantly clear he was lying, and continuing to lie even though we were all pretty much telling him, through tweets and other means, “Dude, the gig is up.”

So, yes, what Weiner did was really between him and his wife. Yes, what he did had not material effect on how he did his job compared to anything else that any other legislator does, moral or not, on his or her own time. Yes, it is a stupid thing to blow into a “scandal” when we’ve had far sleazier Republicans who got a pass.

But none of that changes that fact that Weiner should have known he couldn’t maintain the lie for more than a handful of days and should have stepped forward from the get-go to admit it was him and offer an apology, explanation or whatever.

Yes, it’s worse to have a life of crime and hide the evidence for years as you ruin lives. But people get viscerally offended when you lie right to their faces while doing things that clearly show you’re lying about something you JUST did.

A man who plots to ruin my life and take my family and home and destroy my career is far worse than a guy who punches me in the face. But the guy who punches me in the face is the one who will get put on his ass right away, without question, as a logical reflex response. The other guy who ruined my life? It may take years for me to find out he did, and to make sure he did it on purpose, and justice against him may take longer…or possibly never happen.

If I embezzle money from a company, it might take a long time to figure out I’m doing it, and then a long time to get me convicted for it, assuming you can. But if I steal some treats from the convenience store and there’s video evidence, I will to to jail right away. The latter crime is less serious, but it will carry immediate penalties because of my carelessness and stupidity.

So, in the end, the media didn’t do Weiner in and neither did the Democrats. He made the wrong moves from the beginning and made sure that he had no stable ground on which to stand in the end.

Lesson: If you’re going to do questionable shit, be a lot fucking more discreet about it.

09
Jun
11

Mind Yourself Online

So, class, what has this week taught us when it comes to politics and the Internet?

If you improperly frame and incorrectly relate a key part of early American history (Paul Revere’s famous “the British are coming” ride, for example), a good rule of thumb, when appearing on TV shortly thereafter following all the ridicule, would be to say, “I was on the spot, and I flubbed things up a bit and got a couple different elements of Paul Revere’s life mixed together and a little off the mark on a couple points.” The response is not to say, “I know my history” and then to remain silent as your supporters try to alter the Wikipedia entry on Paul Revere to match your fictitious view of things.

Why?

Because the message is everywhere, and no matter how many supporters you have, the truth is going to come out and more people are likely to shake their heads in disgust at you than to nod their heads in support.

Also, if you have been flirting on Twitter with some young lady, and sent her a picture of your penis and possibly other parts of your manly body, and that gets out, claiming to have been hacked, expressing uncertainty about whether that’s your junk on display, and dodging questions is not the way to go.

It’s the Internet Age. The truth will come out. If it’s your dick online, it’s going to be revealed as such. You cannot hide, and every day you duck and dodge makes it worse. Just come out and say, “I flirted online, as many people do, and it got a little out of hand. I apologize, and I’m embarrassed at myself. On the other hand, I’m far from alone in having done this, and I was not nearly as creepy as many folks who do.”

Own your mistake. Take the power of shaming you away from the media and the public and your political enemies, many of whom have worse sexual skeletons in the closet. Don’t undermine yourself with lies that you must have known couldn’t hold up, assuming you have even half the brains Jon Stewart gives you credit for having.

That’s our lesson on Internet reality for today.

Thank you.

Now go about the regular tweeting of your gonads and messing up of history that you should have paid more attention to in high school and college.

I know I will.




Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

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Jeff Bouley

To find out more about me professionally, click here. To find out more about me generally, click here.

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You can reach Deacon Blue/Jeff Bouley at deaconbluemail@gmail.com.

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