Blogging For Noobs :: Architecture and Morality

Blogging for Noobs

Once upon a time, I wrote something about someone in the white heat of extreme anger. This particular person had done something to me which, on reflection, I probably deserved. I’d been neither kind or understanding to them, and in fact I’d taken the piss out of not only how they’d acted, but how they chose to respond to me. Basically, it was the worst possible thing I could have written at that moment in time. Then, to make matters worse, if that was in fact possible at that point, I went ahead and posted it online where that person not only could see it, but respond if they chose. When did this happen, I hear you ask? 2001. This event took place sixteen years ago but I can remember it as if it was yesterday, because it resulted in a phone call to my home from someone I had never met.

When you write stuff on the Internet, you have to be prepared for the consequences.

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When I watch certain people on Twitter, it becomes apparent that they genuinely don’t grasp the gravity of what happens when you press ‘Tweet.’ Of course, there are some people for whom having a Worldwide audience is the drug they’ve craved for decades, and those individuals are normally pretty easy to spot. They’re the ones that don’t care who they hurt, what they say or indeed if the truth is present in any of their output. When you blog, especially if there’s a decision to target specific people or a particular events, not naming names is really the best idea you’ll ever have. Don’t make things personal, use ‘we’ instead of ‘I’, ensure that you can’t be considered as libellous… there are long lists of what morally should be considered for any work longer than 140 characters, written by people far more worthy than me.

In the past, I’ve unintentionally upset someone totally and completely by accident. I’ve conversely called out a troll who wouldn’t take ‘go away’ for an answer. I’ve reported numerous people for abuse and I have a blacklist on all of my blogs, because sometimes you won’t upset people by accident but by the simple expedient of disagreeing with them. Doing that with conviction, and having the confidence to defend any viewpoint, is probably more dangerous than having a swipe at your best mate for standing you up last week or poking fun at the bloke who served you take-out when you were pissed. As a rule, there are those on the Internet who will never take kindly to you not agreeing with them. If that is upsetting, writing blogs is probably not for you.

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I have been told, too many times now to remember, that my ‘rude and dismissive’ attitude is why people don’t like me. Many bloggers might be here to try and win popularity contests, but my personal work is the way it is for a very good reason. When I launch the Internet of Words project in June, that will have a completely differing tone and style, and it may become necessary to set up a separate site to accommodate that as time goes on. I’m well aware of how to write for separate and distinct audiences, and that those who have gotten upset at my words get upset by lots of other things too that are nothing at all to do with me to begin with. You will not please everybody, it is a physical impossibility. However as a blogger you have a moral duty not simply to your audience, but more importantly to yourself.

Your words, like it or not, are ‘out here’ pretty much in perpetuity. You might think you can delete posts, but you really can’t. All this stuff has been recorded somewhere, and the more contentious your subject matter is, the bigger the potential to never take it back. So, this week’s advice is simple and succinct: don’t write anything you’re not prepared to stand by a year, a week, a decade from now. When you write, make every word matter, but always be mindful that even though you’re doing this for yourself, that’s not the only audience who’ll potentially consume it. For every rant made in the heat of anger there is always a consequence, as is the case with everything you will ever write. If that’s something you’re not prepared to stomach, then it’s time to stop writing.

If you can cope with that responsibility? It all gets better from now on.

Alternative Title

Well, this is new.

In a ‘you couldn’t make this up because it’s Real Life’ coda to my last Blog Post, I discovered I’d been blocked late last night on Twitter, with Point 1 very much applying. Normally I’d have just walked away, but because of who this happened to be doing the forcible removal of me from their timeline, I decided that I wanted to know. So, I e-mailed them directly and asked.

I have to say I’m rather glad I did.

This is a reminder that sometimes, other people aren’t like you. They may share the same interests as you and look as if they are able to identify with what you are, but they don’t get it. Most importantly of all their desire to participate in life with the same degree of immersion of you is fundamentally different, to the point that if you find a point of contention and that other person can’t reconcile your position, there WILL be conflict. Amazingly, some people have no desire to fight about issues, or ideas, they are just happy being what they are, especially if those issues appear to have no direct impact on the World in which they personally inhabit. Most importantly, if you drag unwanted conflict into their world when they’re already trying to avoid drama, for whatever reason, you’re doomed from the word go.

This is a salutatory reminder that how YOU see people is fundamentally different to how they see you on the Internets. Don’t ever forget this, that unless you live with them day in, day out or at least have some realistic face-to-face contact with them, your mileage will vary. The reason why I’ve been blocked is quite relevant too, especially in reference to the current climate on social policy in gaming. I was removed because my presence has the possibility of pulling conflict into the life of a person who doesn’t want it. I’ve not been removed because of what I am, but because of how I’ve interpreted what I see on the bombsite known as Gamergate. I have to say, that’s a spin on things I’d never have seen coming in a million years, but I’ll bet you it’s not unusual.

I’m actually writing this now to highlight the fact that, like it or not, some people don’t see the World in the same way you do, and they choose not to engage with you as a result. That’s an angle I think probably needs covering more than it will ever receive, but because that’s not having a side or pushing a point, it really isn’t newsworthy and nobody is interested.

Nobody today that is except me.

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.