Power without responsibility, the prerogative of the harlot, Facebook and Twitter…

Power without responsibility, the prerogative of the harlot, Facebook and Twitter…

Social media, eh?  An oxymoron if ever there was one.  Social:  from Old French, or from Latin, ‘socialis’ allied; from ‘socius’ friend.  Media, ‘the main means of mass communication…’   Well, they got one right.  With the current state of things, the hatred both have helped create, perhaps they should be renamed.  How about, Trolls-r-us?  

Troll:  1. To fish for by trolling.  2 a: to antagonise (others) online by deliberately posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content.  3 b: to act as a troll. (Merriam-Webster.com, 2017)

Seems apposite.

Both, Twitter more than Facebook, enable anonymity that many hide behind.  These, ‘the anonymous’, are able to rage against an individual, a race, a religion, sexual orientation, or whatever their hot button is, without any penalty.  Anonymity allows them to threaten others with being attacked, raped, killed, have acid thrown in their face.  Without penalty.  Let me repeat that, without penalty.  Free-speech anyone?    

To avoid criticism, both organisations define themselves as platforms rather than publishers because, well, publishers have a responsibility for what is written on their pages / sites.  Not Facebook, or Twitter, though, no, no, no.  ‘We’re a platform so don’t have the responsibility for what people write.’ Well, dear reader, that’s bollocks.  

Both enable people to demean the language of debate and social intercourse; both allow many to conflate disagreement with being an enemy, not an opponent, (I’ve already written about this);  both allow people to rage and say the most outrageous things, most of it without proof, and have their cant believed by those whose views replicate their own.  Then let’s add that both can be used to target specific groups with disinformation.  All this without responsibility.  Thank you, Twitter.  Thank you, Facebook.  Thank you, Cambridge Analytica.  

Both epitomise the modern day ‘prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages, power without responsibility.’  And we allow these two publishers to get away with it.  And we allow these two publishers to make money from what we view and from the dysfunction they have helped create.  The word obscene comes to mind.  As does immoral.  As does unforgivable.   As does harlot.  And it impacts all, and I mean all, areas of our world.  Even sport.  

Rita Panahi, an Australian journalist and social commentator, in an article in the Herald Sun, February 7, 2013, headed ’Soccer trolls abuse proves how right I was’.  

Online anonymity gives users a power without responsibility. They tweet what they would never dare say to your face and in forums inhabited by like-minded, asinine souls they egg each other on. The lack of accountability results in misogyny, racial abuse, threats of violence and insane rants posted without fear of repercussions.’ 

This is about football for God’s sake!  She continues:

The philosopher Plato argued that without accountability for our actions, we would all behave unjustly. One wonders what he would make of a modern world in which the internet affords users almost complete anonymity.’

Yep, that about nails it.  Definitely power without responsibility.  

So, it’s up to us to decide whether we wish to continue contributing to the coffers of these two organisations.  These two powerful, irresponsible, publishers.  Your choice… 

J J Mitchell

‘Never leave anyone behind’ 

In a world of chaos, ‘normal’ won’t fix it

In a world of chaos, ‘normal’ won’t fix it

As an inkster who writes about things various and whose book uses fantasy as a vehicle to sometimes show what’s happening in the world today, I continue to be fascinated by what’s occurring in the world of politics, both here in the UK and Europe but also, obviously, in the United States. Many moons ago, I was heavily involved in organisational change.  This included supporting those impacted by the changes that were being initiated.  Some welcomed change, others had genuine concerns, whilst a small number were hostile to the extent of being deliberately obstructive.  The reason for this was they felt that change impacted their ‘version’ of reality, values, self esteem, authority, and so on. 

Change invariably involves chaos, especially at the beginning of any change programme, hence my interest in chaos theory.  Do a quick search on the web and you’ll come across a number of definitions. 

For example:  The main idea of chaos theory is that a minor difference at the start of a process can make a major change in it as time progresses.’

Here’s another: Chaos theory is a mathematical theory that can be used to explain complex systems such as weather, astronomy, politics, and economics. Although many complex systems appear to behave in a random manner, chaos theory shows that, in reality, there is an underlying order that is difficult to see.’

‘Politics and economics…’  Hmmm.  This appeals. 

Read more

‘Enough now, enough now.’

‘Enough now, enough now.’

Social media, eh?  The main platforms, as everyone well knows, are Facebook and Twitter.  Both have their benefits but increasingly, they have been having, and have been creating, problems.  Problems social, problems financial, problems of integrity, problems of transparency.  In sum, problems.  Big bastards as well.    

Let’s start with Twitter.  During the 2016 election, a number of female political candidates were threatened with rape, murder, being slashed, you name it, they were threatened with it.  Troll farms set up false accounts that created even more mayhem.  One only has to add that obscene waste of oxygen currently in the White House, and the anger and chaos he loves to create into the mix to see that the initial idea of Twitter to create open communications has become dysfunctional.  Read more

Let us toast the humanity in us all and see these Ticks for what they are.

Let us toast the humanity in us all and see these Ticks for what they are.

Interesting times.  At the time of writing, 5 March 2018, it seems that the Italian election has resulted in success for a number of political parties with anti EU / establishment views.  Confirms the wave of anti-establishment feelings that are currently washing across the world.  Think 45 in the US, Brexit in the UK and now we have the election result in Italy.  There are others, think of France, Hungary for example.  Frustration with so many things, some valid, others not.  

And yet, and yet… the decency of the everyday person comes through in times of tragedy or challenge.  Think back to 9/11 and the queues of people waiting to give blood.  Think of the bravery of so many people helping others post the obscene bombing in Manchester in 2017.  Think of the bravery of the paramedics during the equally obscene events that have been happening in US schools and elsewhere.  So many dying, so many wounded and damaged and not only physically, the scars, the trauma, lasting a lifetime for all those involved.  As one trauma surgeon put it, ‘In mass shootings, there are no unwounded victims.’  And yet, and yet… people continue to help others, sometimes at great risk to themselves.  

On a more local level.  During the recent extreme weather we’ve experienced here in Edinburgh, I’ve seen folk contacting neighbours to check that they’re okay; did they want any shopping done?  Clearing the footpaths for neighbours; walking for hours through snow and sleet to get to work so they could undertake a cancer surgery.  So caring.  So compassionate.  So many.  So typical.   

So, if there is innate decency and humanity throughout the world, why is there this, almost visceral, hatred of the current status quo?  Something to do with a feeling of unfairness perhaps?  A frustration at seeing powerful elites getting away with so much?  Perhaps seeing those responsible for the current political and economic environments continue on their merry way without a care and no social conscience?  The media praising of wannabe celebs?  The dumbing down of debate and merely casting insults?  Those disagreeing with you not an opponent but an enemy, (I wrote about this in a previous blog.)  

There is so much frustration in this world.  It’s there, it’s cerebral, it’s emotional, it’s powerful.  Seriously powerful.  And yet, and yet… the elites continue to ignore it.  Or even worse, as we’re seeing now, playing on it and using it for their own political and economic purposes.  Just like ticks, if you think about it.  It can lead to demagoguery, (which carries a heavy burden of history), and if not addressed, the result is too horrible to contemplate.  

Therefore, let us toast the humanity in us all and see these Ticks for what they are.  Challenge everything they stand for, loudly, very loudly, and where it applies, vote them out.  

J J Mitchell

‘Never leave anyone behind’ 

Isn’t language interesting? You don’t kill opponents

Isn’t language interesting? You don’t kill opponents

Isn’t language interesting?  It can be used for peaceful purposes, taking heat out of a situation; whilst at other times to ramp up anger, vituperation and, most regrettable of all, hatred.  Hatred of different ethnic groups, sexual orientation, political beliefs – I could go on.  Currently, (remember, this is being written in January 2018), we have the 45th President of the United States, talking / ranting / tweeting about using the ‘nuclear option’ to address the current shutdown of Government.  His language is that of hate and contempt.    

Regrettable.   

Nowadays we have social media, online news media and television, radio, cable news, in fact a multiplicity of sources for the information we take into our daily lives.  We no longer have the press barons of yore controlling what we see and supporting those whose interests align with their own but not necessarily the majority of us.  I think it good that we have begun to take away this power.  Note the word, begun.  We are not there yet. 

We can now learn of events anywhere in the world within minutes, sometimes as they are happening.  For example, the obscene and cowardly bombing in Manchester in 2017, and the dreadful images of the multiple murders in Florida by a lone gunman with an automatic rifle.  This access has its benefits.  It also has its responsibilities.  It can be used to promote hate, can be kept deliberately ambiguous, and is sometimes used to tell outright lies in support of a particular point of view.  Where is the balance?  Where is the fairness?  There isn’t any at the moment.  

In the United States, until it was repealed by the FCC in August 1987, there used to be the ‘Fairness Doctrine’ which had supporters and detractors from across the political spectrum.  Look it up in Wikipedia and you’ll see what I’m talking about.  Since then there have been a number of attempts to reintroduce some elements of it.  The main reason for this, I believe, is that there were two corollary rules of the doctrine, the ‘personal attack’ rule and the ‘political editorial’ rule.  Both required those impacted by reports to be notified.  In sum, it was about balance, it was about fairness.  This no longer applies.  

Those who try to look at both sides of an argument, or who disagree, are considered weak or called the enemy.  Interesting word, enemy.  Having been in the military, the word invariably means someone we have to dehumanise since we may have to kill them.  Those who disagree with me are not my enemy, they are my opponent, a different thing entirely.  I don’t want to kill my opponents.  I don’t want to disrespect my opponents.  Unfortunately, we are now in a world where balance is no longer respected, vituperation rules and reasoned debate mocked.  Until we are able to differentiate between an enemy and opponent, this vicious circle will continue and demean us as human beings.  It needs to be broken – and it can be.  It ‘simply’ requires us to use language to communicate and involve not exclude.  Go high when the response goes low.  In sum, to confirm and reinforce our common humanity.  

Which returns me to my first comment.  

Isn’t language interesting?  And a powerful tool for good.  So let’s use it that way.  

J J Mitchell

‘Never leave anyone behind’ 

So, why do we write when it can be such a pain in the bum?

So, why do we write when it can be such a pain in the bum?

I have a Twitter account as well as Facebook page.  Twitter allows me to touch base with other, in the main, like-minded folk and Facebook generally with friends and family.  Today’s blog is about the former.  I’ve already written posts about some writers, e.g. Lexi Lefevre (fabulous poet) as well as Doug Wallace (great SciFi inkster).  I’ve left feedback on the latter’s book on Good Reads here.  It’s a good book and worth reading if you’re into fantasy.  

It’s the quality of the poetry, the use of words and the imaginative worlds they create that so impress me.  Read more

I lost a friend today. Semper Fi, Bill…

I lost a friend today.  Semper Fi, Bill…

I heard today that I had lost a friend.  He passed away having fought an unwelcome guest with all the power and passion that made him successful in what he did when we worked together.  He told me six months ago about this unwelcome guest, liver cancer, and that he and the love of his life would fight it together.  He fought.  Oh, how he fought.  Even as he lost that fight, as I found out today he had, it did not beat him.  He would not allow it.  His wife would not allow it.  He would have gone down fighting.  

Semper Fi, Bill.

He was a faithful friend to me and the crew with whom he worked.  He was a healer in all that he did.  He was the first person I thought of when asked if our team could help a group of people who had lost one of their own.  He went in, he worked hard, ‘don’t you ever sleep?’ he was asked more than once.  You look after your own.  No one left behind.  His Marine training, attitude and beliefs would have reinforced that.  

Semper Fi, Bill.

I lost a friend today.  

And I am so sad. 

J J Mitchell

‘Never leave anyone behind…’

On the generosity of other writers.

On the generosity of other writers.

In my last blog I wrote about the generosity of other writers.  There are so many who are willing to share their points of view, what they’ve learned and how others can learn from their mistakes.  I like that.  

Currently I’m setting the scene for a battle between the good guys and the bad guys.  The thing here is that you simply can’t just launch into something and say, battle ensued.  Where’s the context?  Where’s the development of expectation?  Where’s the satisfaction when battle does commence and your bad-ass good guys go against the bad-ass bad guys? Read more

The generosity of the writing fraternity…

The generosity of the writing fraternity…

We’re living in confused times, that’s for sure, and the world is still uncertain as to where we will all be a year from now.  If at all.  Enough has been written about POTUS 45 and his behaviour so I won’t waste my time, or yours, by commenting further since I’ve done enough of that in some previous blogs.  No, what I want to talk about is the power of words and how just one can create different opportunities.  

For example, I’ve just created a group of ‘bad guys’ called the Connektome.  They’ve been developed not only to create a little more tension in Kold Kronicles 2: Defiance, but also to prepare the story arc for Book 3 of the Kold Kronicles trilogy.   It’s based on the word, connectome which I heard when watching a tv programme recently  about psychology and behaviours.  For those of you of an academic / medical frame of mind, connectome is defined in Wikipedia as follows: 

…a comprehensive map of neural connections in the brain, and may be thought of as its ‘wiring diagram’. More broadly, a connectome would include the mapping of all neural connections within an organism’s nervous system.’

In the book, the Connektome are a group of very, and I mean very, rich and well-connected people who can influence the way the world thinks and behaves.  Their current agenda is to put an easily manipulated individual in the White House.  (Isn’t fantasy great?  You can imagine anything.)  Isn’t it also interesting that one simple word can mean so much and potentially have an impact on a story arc? 

The power of words also made me think of how words can be put together to create an emotional response.  A good example of this is the work of the poet, Lexi Lefevre  whom I follow on Twitter.  I delight in her work and the word imagery she creates.  She’s a proud Canadian with an ability to write in raw, emotional terms. Here’s just one example:

Crystalline waves

set off

each

beat.

Tick,

tick,

tick.

My heart

is a

metronome,

keeping up

with the

rhythm of

going

home.

She writes many more, all equally sublime.  Definitely worth following.

There are others I follow but all of them have one thing in common, they are generous in their sharing of the words / worlds they create.  The writing fraternity tends to be generous that way, the good ones anyway.  Wouldn’t it be nice if the rest of world was equally generous?  

J Mitchell

‘Never leave anyone behind…’