This week on my Ms. Creant blog, I show how our social media walls can reveal a great deal about what we are feeling.
FYI: There were 3001 when I posted this. LOL
Conservatively, I estimate I “invested” 1400 hours of my life into Facebook over the past four years which is 500 hours more than it took to produce my book. Let that sink in a moment. I have dwelled on this for some time now. It is because of this significant amount of time that I did not just delete my Facebook account when the final straw arrived. I was close though. For better or worse, there is a legacy we leave behind on Facebook for our “friends”, if not the general public. However, if you posted as I did in a willy-nilly devil-may-care sort of way, you will spend days trying to clean it all up in order to leave a “best of” collection of posts worth scrolling before saying your final farewell. Be prepared for Facebook to “limit” your profile and page(s), a.k.a. putting you in Facebook jail, when you attempt such radical changes.
I am not talking about authors writing under pen names － which is absolutely necessary to avoid harassment － I am talking about people with multiple online personas. Don’t make the mistake of PROJECTING your level of integrity or values, a.k.a. honesty, discretion, and honour onto people you meet. It will bite you every time.
If aliases appear, search each one. If you know multiple locations where they have lived, search each city by each alias. It could take a while to compile all the data, and you should prepare yourself as the results can be nothing less than staggering. Look for, and even search, relatives, known associates, and phone numbers to confirm the site has not made an error. There are pay sites starting from $2.00 that generate a full report including criminal activities. You might want to consider one of these if you are in deep with someone you met online. May your god be kind with what you find.
If you look up naïve in the dictionary, I’m sure you will see my picture there. I viewed joining the author communities on social media as an opportunity to connect with bright, engaging, open-minded seekers of wisdom . . . kindred spirits who would share thoughts as pen pals would, only using modern technology. Overall, nothing could be farther from the truth. Yes, you will encounter a few worthwhile decent types, but in a game where we count followers in the thousands, they represent a minuscule percentage.
I remember being excited about making “friends” on Facebook when I first started out. So excited in fact, I would send friend requests to anyone who had the words author or writer on their profile. Back then, the prevailing theory suggested the key to success was a numbers game; the one with the biggest following would get a publishing deal. People were actually buying followers 10,000 at a time. I didn’t buy into this. I viewed social media as a popularity contest which does not translate into book sales ─ the equivalent to putting flyers in your neighbor’s mailboxes. I have yet to see data which is convincing enough to see it any other way. If I knew better, I would have cultivated relationships with influencers, readers of my genre, publishers, publicists, agents, reviewers, and bloggers ─ all the people I did not have as “friends” but who might have made a difference to the success achieved by my book. Had I known then what I know now, my friends list would look very different than it does today.
If you are going to choose an addiction, social media is the worst possible choice. THERE IS NO HIGH, and the more time you spend on social media the less happy you become. Anyone who has read my book, knows I am anti-escapist regardless of whether the high is produced naturally or artificially. Regular cocaine users know the drug has a diminishing return. The high is never as good as the first time they tried it unless they increase the quantity used; and the more they use, the more frequent their cravings become until it affects their lives. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no hypocrite. I let my demons out for an occasional stroll, but I pick my poisons carefully to ensure that none take charge of my life. Social media hooks us on being connected and never being alone. It is dangerous because humans must be alone in order to think, learn, and grow. Social media stagnates the mind and, Facebook at least, seems bent on depressing the populace. Endless distractions thwart creativity and productivity. If you: feel obligated to post on social media; look in regularly for comments on posts; have never turned off Messenger or notifications or your device, then you should pick different poisons for a while until you get a handle on the monkey on your back.
I used my Facebook profile page as a playground where I could share multiple aspects of my personality. This allowed me a place to vent . . . and vent I did; or more correctly, am continuing to do here in what will become my last post to Facebook. Early on I promised the real me would be on display at all times to my “friends”. The people on my friends list did not get an artificial construct or watered down perfect illusion of who I am. Nope, they got the full Monte, or at least as much Monte as Facebook would allow. My inner bad boy posted what little nudity Facebook community standards would tolerate for two reasons: Firstly, I am a rebel who sees freedoms dying faster than the planet is losing species; and secondly, nothing in the world is more beautiful to me than the female form. I shared my sense of humour as well, even when I knew it might be crossing someone’s line every now and then. I also shared my philosophies, and those from others which resonated within me, in what I now see as a futile effort to awaken the sleeping oblivious sheeple. The proof is in the likes. There were next to none. Recently, I wanted to find out if I was out of Facebook jail so I posted: ‘Somebody, anybody, tell me if you can see me.’ This post got more attention than a year’s worth of meaningful posts, and at the same time, it made a sad statement on the superficiality of the average Facebook user.
As an author, I should have divided my time equally between Goodreads, twitter, and Facebook because Goodreads has proven itself to put your books in front of readers, and unlike Facebook, you can reach out to everyone and anyone on twitter. Time is the one thing you can never get more of and it does not allow do-overs. Spend yours wisely.
Fuckerberg, and the Nazis in the shadows behind him, are using facebook for data collection on each and every one of us, as are most of the major corporations in Silicon Valley. The difference is Facebook knows far more about us than Google, and possibly even the makers of our devices and the companies that supply operating systems as long as they do not breach their published privacy policies which most have already been caught doing. Facebook considers EVERYTHING you share to be their property. This includes Messenger. Yup, your selfies and home-made porn videos are all sitting in a data farm somewhere and you can never truly delete them. They lured us away from My Space with the promise of something better. A promise which was never kept right from the beginning. Their endless adjustments to the algorithm, have severely limited our outreach to readers while they stayed busy categorizing and compartmentalizing us into something reminiscent of a box filled with hamsters where everyone is climbing all over each other. Good luck. I’m out.
That doesn’t have the same innocuous ring to it as social media site, does it. In my time on Facebook, I have been appalled by posts in my News Feed ranging from animal cruelty to the shooting of an unarmed man by police, with a far too great number of others in between. Were they fake news as with the Trumpeter’s election campaigners who mysteriously showed up only to disappear shortly after the election? We can never know. What is clear however, is we are affected, influenced, and manipulated by what we see and hear in all forms of media. Worst of all, we become desensitized to atrocious human behavior and I believe this is NO ACCIDENT; but where they are intentionally herding the minds of the sheeple. When three billion users worldwide have been programmed to no longer give a shit about life, the world can easily fall into anarchy. On that day, the frightened sheeple will willingly turn over the last of their freedoms for safety. The single biggest difference between other forms of media and Facebook is there are no restrictions placed on what Facebook is allowed to broadcast. Facebook can do what they want with the get-out-of-jail-free-card of being a social media platform not responsible for the content created by users. There is no Editor In Chief to hold accountable for what is thrust before our eyes. Facebook’s new take on morality is not for me. It shouldn’t be for you either.
If I look at my years on Facebook as I would my life, there are some parallels. I have a few regrets but there was also a great deal of laughter. There were a handful of people who made the time spent on Facebook almost seem worthwhile. I hope they keep in touch. There were also some standouts who stepped up when it really mattered, and they have my deepest gratitude.
If you are just an individual who wants to keep tabs on people you already know in the real world, or if you want to find people you have lost touch with, then have at it while being VERY cautious of what you post or message to people. Keep your circle small and be wary of people you have not met in person when they send you a friend request. If you have the misfortune of being a writer who is following conventional wisdom, a.k.a. forced kicking and screaming into the social media spotlight as I was, then things will be tougher. Absorb and retain the previous 1800 words and I will leave you with the immortal words of my favorite Zen master: ‘Mind what you have learned; save you it can.’ – Yoda.
One big question of many that perplex me when it comes to the State of Israel and Jewish people is: Why are 14.2 million people more newsworthy in the West than the other 6.86 billion people of the world? Is there more to this than media control, ownership, or the claimed disproportionate number of Jewish people working in Western media? I don’t know. When I don’t know something, I read, and keep on reading until I find answers. This tiny segment of the world’s population endlessly reminds us of their stories of persecution; some of these stories are based on historically documented facts, while others have so little empirical evidence they border on the mythological. A media spotlight affords a tiny state some protection from transgressors, but in doing so, it can also cast a shadow on any freshly dug graves.
The world’s religions mastered indoctrination long ago, so this, I thought, would be a good area to acquire a better grasp of a people without diving into the more volatile areas of politics and economics.
Yesterday’s read began with enthusiasm as I found a book which was touted to be: A Guide to Jewish Wisdom; something that appealed to me on a couple of different levels even though I am not Jewish, and have—putting it mildly—a general dislike of almost all religions for their exploitive, for-profit business model which excludes aid to anyone who is not a paying customer. Firstly, this book appealed to the researcher inside me as I am usually forced to open dozens of books over several days just to find puzzle pieces which I then have to make notes on and later assemble into something that makes sense. It’s a good day when you find an author who has done all the work for you. Secondly, I have not given Judaism its due, relative to the volume of reading I have done on all of the larger religions. Oh sure I have skimmed the Tanakh and read the greatest hits of the Torah in my fact-finding missions to compare stories from other religions, but I really did not have a “feel” for this group’s beliefs. I really hoped this book on the mystical side of Judaism: Kabbalah, would give me a better understanding of the big picture.
This book dodged a bullet. When we choose a nonfiction book to read, we are encouraged to pay attention to the credentials of the author as though only a credentialed person can put forth a valid thought—or so the publishing world a.k.a. print media would have us believe. The author is a Rabbi and an educational psychologist so I expected a balance of theology with logic and reason. What I got was a heavy dose of mysticism, magic, and the supernatural with a smattering of references to empirical research that, at best, offered a weak endorsement of how the magic worked. The spiritual mumbo-jumbo, of course, told the believer how to think and live “correctly”:
In fact, there was an entire paragraph on how to appropriately greet and compensate a Kabbalist or Hassidic rebbe if you were ever fortunate enough to garner their attention.
And yet the author saw fit to publish a photo of himself with the Dali Lama instead of one where he was feeding or counseling “displaced” Palestinian children.
In fairness, I expect hypocrisy in all books from theologians, however once you strip away the nonsense, there were about fifty pages of good reading where the author succinctly explained: The Ten Sefirot, the meaning of the Star of David, and he interpreted a number of commonly used Jewish religious terms while passing along some insights into Judaic “philosophy”. The book was just 200 pages so I’ll give it a 1.25 star rating.
What did I learn? Nothing Earth shattering, but it would appear that Judaism:
This lackluster book did however point me at a new target of inquiry. It seems that in the 1700’s a scholastic elite were the only ones with access to Jewish literary works. This wreaks of potential tampering akin to Constantine or King James. I’ll let you know if anything interesting turns up once I have chased down this lead.
I can’t believe I am saying this but…
I, E. A. Barker, do publicly acknowledge the following:
I doubt he knew why this is a good idea, as he blathered away about anything which could get him in the news while he was campaigning for office, but he did say it.
Here are my reasons:
Technology is out-pacing our growth as a species in more ways than mere possession of atomic weapons.
The incredibly dorky first generation users of Google Glass were quick to embrace the idea of being “plugged in” all day. This was man’s first step toward becoming a cyborg race. Sounds far-fetched, you say? Follow this News.com.AU link.
Education is embracing technology as a teaching tool which is being PROMOTED as a way to engage kids better. Funny, I thought a quality curriculum, well trained, well paid, and carefully selected teachers could engage kids, but I’m just some nut on the Internet.
Here is the writing on the wall:
In a generation or so, children will have grown up being “plugged in” 24/7. They will be completely Internet addicted and completely helpless without it. They will learn more and faster but what we need to be asking ourselves is:
Libraries are embracing technology for budgetary reasons as well. Paper books are expensive and there is only so much shelf space. Database access and e-books are cheaper and take up far less space. In theory, a tiny library in a small town could offer access to the entire library of congress, BUT this will not be the case for two reasons:
When education is fed directly into a human mind via artificial means, thought control is complete. The information that mind receives is completely in the control of another.
My train of thought has been known to derail.
In the previous installment I touched on the subject of health as part of a general view of my personal reality. A few weeks after posting that one, I wrote an e-mail which expanded on the theme which I will share to complete the thought.
First, for those who have not yet read Ms. Creant, my book delves into LIFE–which of course include matters of health. There is more room in a book to go into detail but for the sake of brevity I will give you the key idea which I presented on this subject:
We are bombarded by books and articles about the importance of exercise, eating right, and eliminating the intake of things that we know to be bad for us. These writers tell us that if we look after our bodies, we will be more energetic, happier and will live longer. IF THIS WERE TRUE:
The reason is fairly simple to grasp. They focused on only 25% of their being’s needs to the exclusion of the other 75%.
Here is what they missed:
Preface over; now on to the subject at hand.
Hope springs eternal. Hope is what keeps us going. Most people consider this a given until presented with challenges they were not PREPARED to face. The least AWARE among us will be quicker to lose hope, while thinkers will take their time to process this new information before ACCEPTING the opinions of the very fallible indoctrinated humans who dispense it.
If you believe a singular prognosis, it is YOU who will make it a reality.
This brings us to the point you were making. Reasonable or cautious optimism are a part of what thinking people wrestle with constantly. We must be cautious yet hopeful. Most importantly, we must be careful not to RATIONALIZE poor choices or behavior as a result of a new-found belief. At the same time, we must not DELUDE ourselves either or we could allow a decline in our condition which could have been prevented. This is a great deal of information which we must process. Fortunately the human brain is capable of this level of cognitive reasoning when the mind has been properly trained to think about the probable outcomes of numerous possibilities.
Thinking people ponder their options while other humans merely react.
A person who is considering several courses of action is undecided about the outcome so they have not yet chosen to BELIEVE anything. Conversely, the person who immediately chooses to believe, will also immediately begin to live a REALITY created for them by someone else.
We have a choice as to what we believe. This is certain and it also implies that we have a choice of realities.
A health challenge is a test of WHO we are: our intellect, our spirit, our emotional stability and our will to continue. No school program ever PREPARES us for these life challenges, even though they should. I wrote my book, in part, as an attempt to create change in what we teach–to encourage life preparedness. In order to achieve this we must place emphasis on creating young people with fully formed and understood identities rather than letting them flail about in the world, HOPING they will find their way.
A prepared mind is less likely to believe in a reality created by someone else, and more likely to see their HOPES come to fruition.
I wish I had thought of the line above sooner . . . it would have saved a great deal of time.
What you CHOOSE to believe in makes a statement about you as an individual and all those who helped to shape you.
They are all products of the society in which they live.
But it was YOU who ultimately made a CHOICE as to:
There is an endless debate in the social sciences as to whether the significant early life choices are made consciously or subconsciously or by a combination of both, and how much control an individual has over external influences. It really does not matter. The only thing that truly matters is:
It only takes is a willingness on your part to LEARN about the most interesting person in the world: YOU! Instead of researching the lives of the rich and famous, spend that time studying your being.