privilege posts

Thursday 18 October 2012

I write about privilege Wednesday, and BAM! all these other posts/articles about privilege show up in my life (mostly via facebook).

Here they are, for your reading (and viewing) pleasure:

Tagg Romney: Mr. White Privilege

White Woman Wears Afro, Life Changes. Or Something.

Two students, two high schools, two divergent paths to college

Everyone’s a Crybaby (video — some “bad” words if you can about that kind of thing)


Friday 27 March 2009

I think I’m about done with facebook.  I’m sure some of you are thinking, “What are you THINKING?!?!” and others of you are more, “It’s taken you THIS long??” but it’s where I’m at.

I suppose I should clarify: when I say “done with facebook,” I don’t mean deleting my profile and exiling myself from (perhaps) the largest “social networking” site on the Internet, but rather just removing myself mentally from any feeling that it’s worth any more than the tiniest sliver of my time every month or two.  Moving somewhere that only has a dial-up Internet connection will likely make the “transition” a bit easier, but I think the time is right regardless of the situation of my life.

What started small during the 2003/2004 school year as a simple connection device for people has snowballed into an overwhelming cacophony of applications, causes, groups, fans, boxes, videos, tweets (I’m almost ashamed I know what those are), and probably many things I have no idea exist.  Once restricted to those with college e-mails, you can now get a profile with any (and every) e-mail you own.  What was for me a way to connect and stay connected — in the most basic of ways — with people I considered acquaintances and friends has turned into the online equivalent of show and tell where there’s no restriction of how long you present for or what you present about, and in fact we’ll assist you in presenting totally innane things that really have no value to anyone’s life whatsoever.  It’s gotten to the point where I think I’ll just keep the connections and recognize the positives for me in the whole endeavor — namely I can reconnect/update connections with people pretty quickly and easily — and dispense of all the excessive BS.  Facebook has become a place where you can write your memoir with no editor and include any multimedia you might want.

So things lately that have pushed me to this edge:

Friend requests for people I really have no reason to want to connect with — They might be distant relations or people I knew way back when but never really spent a lot of time with or connected with in the first place and have no desire to accept as a “facebook friend.”  Or former students I kind of know but it’s just a little akward to receive a request and hit yes…  I’ve denied a few, but then I’ve just gotten new requests from the same person, so now I just tend to leave them sit and ignore.

Facebook “e-mail” — OK, so I can understand if you don’t know my real e-mail and have to contact me through facebook, or if you’re sending something to a group, but if you know my e-mail, why do you have to send me a facebook-mail?  Most of the time I don’t see them when they arrive, and I usually forget to respond when I do, so if only for your sake, just send me a real e-mail.  Isn’t that one of the things e-mail is for?

Non-humans getting in on the action — So as if it wasn’t bad enough that a corporation has the same legal rights as a human, now they’re on facebook!  This isn’t a new thing, to be sure, but last night I heard on the local news, “Don’t forget to check us out on facebook and twitter.”  WTF?!?  Don’t you have something called a “website” where I could find you?  Why are you infiltrating the realm of humans?  Seriously, get out!

Everything that doesn’t matter — Really, “everything that doesn’t matter” could be most of the facebook experience.  Brian Unger recently did a satire with the premise that nobody really cares about all the mundane things we’re up to, so those status messages that tell people we’re in the shower (the third or so generation since “Away Messages”) need to end.  And for what it’s worth, all I need for “social networking” to really happen is a name, an e-mail, telephone, maybe a website, a person’s actual address, possibly their current career, and maybe, MAYBE, a little bit about a person’s likes and dislikes in areas like books, movies, TV, food, or a few other general categories.  And I guess I could accept some picutre.  Some.  And in case you’ve forgotten: THAT’S HOW FACEBOOK STARTED!

I’m coming up on my 5-year anniversary of “belonging” to facebook, and I really wish I could go back.  Though I, personally, almost can by what I decided to have in my profile and connect in the facebook universe.  I’d just have to remove the few applications I have decided to endorse by linking to them.  But with the constant inundation of all that is out there on facebook, I still feel trapped when I come across another’s profile and see the plethora of things out there that just make it, to me, a busy mess.

So whatever your opinion on the facebook world that currently is, I think my semi-close connection with it is coming to an end.  Instead, I think I”ll retreat to a lesser connection — facebook, you’ve been demoted to the status of “facebook friend.”  Good bye!

away messages

Thursday 18 September 2008

When I did most of my away message writing, it was pre-facebook (pre-2004), though I also did some away message writing before the “status” thing on facebook that tried to put a semi-long-term spin on the away message theme.  AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) was always the biggest and best way to chat online with people (and from what I can tell it still is, though I’m not very apt in it anymore), and even when you weren’t chatting, you left a little message for people to read while you were gone.

Now the content of those messages fell into a few main categories, at least from memory (again, I’m going off things that happened circa 2006 and prior).  And even though it my still be current practice, I’m going to treat things as historical and write in past tense.  Though from my recent AIM pseudo usage, things haven’t changed too much, except that maybe people use AIM a little less now that facebook is around to help them waste their time.  But I digress…

One way to use away messages was to tell people where you were and/or what you were doing. This might also include the fact they one would “brb” (be right back) or such that you were reading but would take a break if someone wrote you.  I think I did this on occasion, but I almost never used the away message for the purpose it was most likely intended for.  There’s plenty of “maybe it is, maybe it isn’t” cyber stalking happening out there (and the advent of facebook added to that possibility — thank you very much Mark Zuckerberg), and I really didn’t feel like adding to the possibility of people knowing where I was at any given time.  I’m sure no one probably cared and I’m making myself up to be more important than I am, but regardless of the reason, it wasn’t my practice.

Another similar practice was to share with people either something that had already happened or something that was to happen in the future. Sometimes this would be a promotion to attend a certain play or event someone was in, or it might have been some past event with significance that seemed interesting or funny.  I would sometimes advertise an event, but I rarely did this.

One way I used away messages that I suppose would fit in this category is when I would vaguely sharing my emotional state or feelings with some kind of esoteric statement that really I only understood and knew the meaning to.  Not that anyone cared, but this led me to try and read into other people’s away messages, thinking they might be trying secretly expressing some inner feeling, maybe even speaking directly to me (as I was doing at times).  But probably not.

People might also just say general statements about life or their beliefs. Saturday night be filled with general statements about a football team winning or losing or about something someone had on their mind.  This category is the approach I read a lot of when I’m looking at facebook statuses (though people do write a lot of actual “status” information there, too).

People would share links to websites or online videos.  ‘nough said.

The final general category is pretty much contains any and everything else you could possibly think of. A lot of people would do quotes or song lyrics.  I would sometimes try and write something clever or cute or sarcastic — maybe like (I just thought of this 10 minutes ago), “If the early bird gets the worm, ten just be the worm that shows up late.”  I remember someone from camp telling me one summer they had enjoyed reading my away messages during the school year, even though we hadn’t really known each other during that time.  It was a way to entertain and be entertained and take a short break.

On a side note there, I remember that when my computer crashed after college (but while I was still using AIM), one of the things I was saddest about was the fact that I lost so many of the saved away messages I had loved to use and held dear to me.  I still kind of wonder what they were, but they are gone forever.  Such is life.

Now why did I write all this (which, I must say, is far below par for me and blog posts)?  Well, I thought that instead of a blog post (obviously that part didn’t happen this time), I might share some possible away messages that I thought about during the day — though as I was thinking more about them, I relized that my mind has started thinking about facebook status options instead of in terms of AIM away messages.  And I remember how for so long I never even put a status into my profile.  I guess, just as it happened with the cell phone, technology seems to such me in eventually (and that’s not always a bad thing).

So without further ado (or any more words), here is a part of my day in possible away messages/statuses:

eric left his spinach at the store.

eric is on YouTube!  (See my first upload.)

eric loved riding a bike to work again.

eric really wishes he could get his facebook profile name to be in lowercase letters.

eric will go to bed before midnight!

eric’s couch is also his bed.

eric still needs to unpack (but that’s what the weekend’s for).

eric wrote an extremely long blog but is too lazy to edit or cut any of it.

I’ll be back soon, don’t you worry!

the people in your life

Tuesday 19 February 2008

Ever since my blog about 1 million Iraqis being killed in the past 5 years, I’ve been thinking about whether or not I actually might know a million people. The perfectionist in me wants to make an excel spreadsheet list of all the people I’ve met (and remember enough to write down) in the past 25 or so years of my life, but the realist in me knows that would take quite a while and probably not be worth it in the end — and it would likely become just another list I’d want to keep track of as I meet more people, kind of like my ever changing list of movies I’ve seen (those I want to see but haven’t just aren’t rated).  Plus, it would kind of be sad, deconstructing the humanity of relationships into simple spreadsheet.

So instead of turning my life into meaningless statistics, I instead try to think about all the lives of others that have intersected mine. There are definitely people I’ve been in the same room with that I’ve ran across but I would not say I “met” and certainly never “knew” them. And there are surely people who’ve “known” me but I never had contact with — those students for who my name came up in conversation and who were aware of my presence but for who I wasn’t their teacher would be one example. If you let the idea of “knowing” someone require the act of an introduction and/or conversation having taken place, the list becomes a little more exclusive, but even then I’m still amazed at the variety and abundance of people I’ve met and places I’ve met them.

School is one of the larger segments of ways I know people. Since I went to such a small school containing pretty much the same people K-12, perhaps I know fewer people than others that way, though with that small town, too, I came to know most of the people in the community in one way or another, and they can’t be forgotten about. I also know a lot of people form college — classes, dorms, and students groups — and if facebook would have came around a few years earlier, I might have a better estimate of just how many people that might have been.

Church and groups with a spiritual aspect are definitely another big connection for me. I’ve attended (regularly) about 4 churches in my life and have built lasting relationships with people in all of them. I’ve also attended many conferences, retreats, assemblies, and gatherings where I added more people to my “list.” I’ve met and formed many amazing relationships with those associated with Lutheran Volunteer Corps — volunteers, LVC staff, and the many people I met during my trip or otherwise recruiting for LVC. And this section would in no way be complete if I didn’t mention Camp Mowana. I’ve probably worked with around 100 people who were on staff while I was there, and then there are the hundreds, if not thousands, of campers and pastors/volunteers who I met during my time as a counselor. Because I have an issue with names, many of those campers would probably be slighted in a name-specific list format, so that’s another reason not to make one.

And then you have all the other somewhat random ways in which I’ve met people — parties, game night, community organizing, friends of friends, rugby/curling/frisbee/etc., jobs/work not listed above — I’m sure I could name many more ways. I invite you to reminisce about the many people who have stepped in (and maybe out) of your life, making it what it is today, for they are the ones who have truly brought it joy and meaning.

And I invite you (as always) to leave some of your comments about ways you’ve met some of the people in your life and why you find them special — be as specific or as general as you’d like, but I think it’s good to really give credit to those who make this life worth living.