Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Whither November?

You may have noticed (or not - very egocentric of me to assume that anyone pays any particular attention to the frequency of this blog other than me but let’s go with it as an opening now that I’ve started) that after a daily blitz of filmy goodness throughout most of October, it has gone somewhat quite on this here bloggy front.

That is because I have been attempting this:-

National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo as they like to style themselves; yes, it is a slightly cringey abbreviation, you are quite correct)

The goal is to produce the first draft of a novel of at least 50,000 words in length over the course of the 30 days of November. For those of you who like a stat (and who doesn’t like a stat?), that’s a daily average of 1,667 words. Given that (and that my average as of today is hovering more around the 1,100 mark), things are going to be pretty quiet around here this month. Or they may end up being less quite as I struggle to write what I’m supposed to be writing so end up writing blog posts instead whilst internally berating myself for not writing what I’m supposed to be writing. All pretty standard really.

“What’s it about?”, you say? It’s about 18,000 words at the moment. Aha ha. Yes, I am most amusing / tedious (delete as applicable). I’ve got a bit of a funny thing about writing. I don’t like to talk about it much while I’m writing. Partly because, much as you may think you know the shape of something before you go in, it changes as you go. Partly because I’m not very good at coming up with a copyrighting blurb that makes it sound enticing.

“Have I done it before?”, you ask? I have - this is the sixth time I have attempted it and on only one occasion have I been successful. “Where’s that other one then?” Blimey, you’re full of questions, aren’t you? It’s currently sat as a first draft waiting for me to to plough through it and turn it into a revised draft. 

So anyway, yes, that’s why I might not be writing much in November. It’s because I’m writing a lot in November (and working and socialising…)

Image result for writing

Monday, 19 November 2018

Outrage And Offence

I spend time on social media. I’ve got the Book Of The Face and The Place For Twitts. That’s not a boast - I mean, everyone’s got them*. This is the 21st century after all. There is something that I’ve noticed more and more as a consumer of and participant in social media. That something is the overriding dominance of offence and outrage.

To an extent, I get it. I mean, it’s satisfying, isn’t it? A good bit of outrage. You get a brief burst of feeling that sense of moral superiority over someone else. “I am outraged because I would never behave like that and therefore I am better.” Whether we like to admit or not, we’ve all got a bit of that inside us. Without that, the Daily Mail would not have been able to operate in the way it has done for many, many years (combined, of course, with an ability to tap into and exploit people’s fears).

The current problem is that social media is not nuanced enough to allow for proper debate on a number of issues, having to reduce everything down to small, digestible, character-limited soundbites; the result of this being that people’s “offence glands” (for want of a better term) are not only prodded into action but are then seen as the only responses that need to be adhered to. This is further stoked by the trend in modern journalism to rely on a limited pool of social media responses as the main sources of “truth” for many an article (as previously discussed here - the trend of “so-and-so said something and the internet is furious”). The difficulty being that for every genuine case where something worthy of apology is highlighted, there are many others in which people are backed into a corner or shamed over something that doesn’t really deserve the disproportionate response it gets.**

Many years ago, I used to frequent several internet forums*** and the overriding issue with most of them was that you were never more than two comments away from someone calling someone else a Nazi. Social media has contracted that even further. You wouldn't (or you shouldn’t really attempt to, in my opinion) have a meaningful discussion with someone via text message as it is robbed of tone, expression and inflection. The same rules should apply for how to approach interactions on social media.

What’s the solution here? If I knew that, the world would be a much less stressy place. For me, this first step is not to just react to something posted on a social platform as the truth (easier said than  done, yes, and I’m still guilty of doing this). Read around, find out more, direct responses to the right people, don’t get drawn into insults over debate. It is easy to say, of course, but very few things worth doing are ever completely easy. In a world where people in positions of power are more and more comfortable with promoting blatant lies in order to further their own agendas, personally I’d like to see us move from a society that it becoming prone to knee-jerk reactions to internet offence to one that it is using its critical faculties and questioning what we see more. Idealistic? Maybe but I’d like to think it’s possible for my own sanity if nothing else.

Image result for anger hulk

* Well, not everyone but near enough. Oddly, three of my oldest friends don’t really go in for social media (with the exception of one who’s on Twitter - hey, Rich, in case you clicked though…)

** In terms of public internet shaming, Jon Ronson’s book “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” is a fascinating take on the subject.

*** Should that be “fora”? I think so but I’m not sure I’m ready for that level of pedantic accuracy just yet...