Birds Fly (Whisper to a Scream)

Yeah, there goes August…

Surprisingly, many things have gone exactly as planned this month. The writing has been one of them, though there’ll be no more talk of novels until the kids return to school and I can get some clear air, because REALIST and ONLY SO MANY HOURS IN THE DAY (insert sanity break here.) Today, we return after an absence due to not being pissed off with anything enough in the Real World to want to rage about it on a Blog. That’s how this seems to work. It’s Therapy for my Brane when the gaming blogging won’t cut it.

Surprisingly I’m not writing about the Death of Gamers either, before you ask.

Yesterday, Twitter released an analytical tool it has been playing with quietly for some time. Basically, it tells you who is looking at your tweets, and when, and what happens when they do. It is the equivalent of ignoring the frantic requests to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain and allowing people to understand just how important their words are IN REAL TIME. A great deal of the problems currently on the Internet, like it or not, are wrapped up in two intractable factors: how fast you can respond to a thing, and what you say in reaction to said thing. This is where it all counts, the reaction and the meaning. From the brief time I’ve been playing I can inform you immediately that if you’re not getting your point across on Twitter using pictures (or indeed video) you really are doing it wrong. Even Twitter know this, and that’s why Twitter Cards are big business for advertisers.

Images matter far more than words in the current climate, and yet I don’t see anyone threatening female game designers with photo montages. Words have become the cheap and easy way of scaring, when that shouldn’t be their job at all. Except it should, but not in this context, and here is my point.

The cheap and nasty threats that are being written about those who challenge the perceived status quo of the World around us come from the mouths of ignorant cowards. They are morons, incompetents who think the only way words can hurt is when they are blunt, when used as the most basic of weapons. No-one should be put in danger by words but still they have a way to destroy trust and mangle common sense. The truth, it seems, more and more is the damning pictorial evidence, even if it is neutered or often Photoshopped into a version of reality that simply doesn’t exist in the Real World. People will only read, it seems, if there is a threat or a motivation. The picture becomes easier to digest, more palatable because it is often impossible to hide a deeper meaning and people are growing tired of the noise the words make around them. Others walk away,  and somehow feel that not taking part in life is easier or more preferable because it all becomes too much.
This is the legacy we are creating for our children, and although some of it is laudable, other parts are clearly dangerous. It is time to learn how to live in this new World of Words and Pictures, and not pretend neither of them actually exist. It is the moment to understand that if you allow words to drive your fears, there will be no space left to love them any more, they will lose some of their lustre. It is, more importantly, learning how you use them to fight back, to make as much noise as the people who seek to drown you out in ignorance. Ironically, it is tools such as Twitters analytics that will give people the ability to understand what they say and how it is heard in the Modern World. The future is in data management, of demographic surveillance. You only need to look at the experiments Facebook has undertaken on users to understand the significance this data already has on the world we live in.
I read the stupid about gaming. I see the women being driven from their homes. I watch people patently fail to think before they press ‘Tweet.’ Everyone is affected by the words, like it or not, and everyone has the power to deal with the consequences as they see fit, and they will. In the UK, people are already being prosecuted for trolling on Twitter. As the World changes, so will the punishments, and anyone who is stupid enough to believe that their actions are beyond the law is setting themselves up for a fall. Major corporations will not hide you. ‘Anonymity’ is a front for all but the most intelligent of individuals. Even then, don’t think sticking yourself behind a facade is going to help you for long, because it won’t if you piss off the wrong people. The problem is with the Internet, everyone’s here, and often in forms they’ve long forgotten. If I believe what I read, that on-line presence in developing countries happens before they can even use a computer so don’t think peoiple won’t be looking up your entire life, embarrassing moments and all, because they can.
It is time to learn how to use your words well, and to pick the right pictures. It is the moment for you to control the analytics and not the other way around. Most importantly, it is really important you don’t just worry about what’s safe in your kitchen or in your house for your child. 
Time to do a Virtual Reality Check on all of your lives, not just those you consider as vulnerable.

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