Y i no facebook: Choosing my social networking wisely

Despite the variably impactful criticism of my lifestyle choices, the argument that I must have a facebook (purposely lowercase) is the one that bothers me the most. I know the argument that if we let criticism bother us it means that we have some emotional connection to the things being said.

Yea, okay, of course.

It matters to me that I’m connected to the people for whom I care greatly, but there is something I care about more: my right to own my pieces of self.

After all the research I’ve been doing in/on the Internet, I know that I can never have complete control over my data, and where it goes. But what I can decide is where I place it, and why.

My essay on Twitter from May gets at this a bit. I back Twitter because they have much more transparent policies on how they control their user’s and the government’s access of information.

Facebook, on the other hand, feels no inclination whatsoever to inform their users of the blatant exploitation of their own information. Don’t believe me? That’s nothing new. The major criticism of my refusal to use facebook is that I’m enveloped in a conspiracy theory. Hilarious.

So, for those of you who think I’ve gone bonkers, here’s some “legitimate” articles for you:

On privacy: http://money.cnn.com/2012/03/22/technology/facebook-privacy-changes/index.htm

Their questionable acquisition of an Israeli company to begin facial recognition: http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2012/06/21/facebook_facial_recognition_how_to_opt_out.html

The highly publicized merger of fb and instagram: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-teitelman/facebook-instagram_b_1418168.html

Here is a guide to protect yourself on fb (because we must apprise ourselves of our own safety on something as harmless as facebook, right? ): http://www.sophos.com/en-us/security-news-trends/best-practices/facebook.aspx

I sincerely hope you take the time to read those articles; it is so imperative to know how you’re affected by your participation in the social networkings of the Internet.

The reason I write this post is because I came across a very interesting article this morning that taught me a few more things than what I have already known about facebook, and such. Since I’m a heavy twitterer, it was good for me to understand the way they are beginning to use my identity too.

If you read any article and not others, read this one! http://www.buzzfeed.com/mattbuchanan/why-twitter-turned-its-back-on-instagram

This article details the way our various social networks (Twitter, fb, google+, linkedin, etc) are waging data war with one another. I venture some of you are saying, “Who cares?!” Well you should. Look closely at the language in the article.

Matt Buchanan starts this article off with a dauntingly large (from my browser at least) photograph of what the attempt to import one’s twitter friends to one’s instagram through an apple device looks like. We are slammed into an immediate rejection of an app option with this visual. Incidentally the title of the denial being “Unable to Find Friends”, we could question what that means, and we should.

What does it mean that we cannot find our friends? Is this really the problem?

Like any instance or circumstance, several truths emerge from the inability to incorporate twitter with instagram. I’ll list a few possibles.

Buchanan calls this inability “slightly annoying”, and something else. The something else is what drives the article behind the slightly emphatic rhetoric. We should ponder over the annoyance, and what it means for us users who want that seamless user-friendly experience with our social networking applications.

What is somewhat inflectional, I find, is that Buchanan doesn’t leave the “annoying” thread, but uses that as his lens to discuss the more flagrantly sinister moves behind these actions. He first refers to our inability to pull our friends list as “terribly annoying”, then softens it considerably in the next sentence to “simply annoying”. The shift is immediate, and for what reason?

Buchanan then boldly names the budding inability for the major social networks to work together: “We’re in the middle of a data embargo war, where the data we pour into services is increasingly siloed, so our experiences are less rich than they could be.” A war is it? Well Buchanan, you’ve piqued my interest. If it is war, I am certainly concerned. What is the war over? Data? Huhm. Furthermore, Buchanan’s choice of verb is worth noting; silo as a verb means to preserve in a container.

And where would such war-ravaged data be preserved? Oh, here:

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/

(this I reblogged before from http://jopauca.wordpress.com/  [an undeniably necessary source for all the good things])

A few of my friends call me a conspiracy theorist for mentioning these connections, but it deems attention and research prior to dismissal. Why would such a data center be necessary? This is a question that needs answering; it is also one that permits an extensive look at how valuable our data really is.

Buchanan begins to relate this: “This is where we should step back for one second: What the hell is a ‘social graph’? And what the balls is an ‘interest graph’? They’re the most valuable things that Facebook and Twitter own. It’s the sum of all of their data, the heart of what makes everything they’re doing work.” Hmm…these graphs that social networks make/use/apply are the something they covet. Social networks keep them from one another almost as forms of copyrighted, patented tools (and I mean tools in all of its linguistic incarnations). According to Buchanan, graphs are what make these networkswork”. So the question is begged: what kind of work are they doing?

Facebook tracks how we’re all related to one another. Twitter tracks what we’re interested in. Google is some combination between the two (note that down). It’s no wonder Buchanan goes on to say (after the pretty little graphic): “If one company had access to both of sets of data — a map of who everybody is connected to, and all of the stuff everybody is interested in, they’d have a mighty powerful (and scary) set of data, useful for everything from recommending stuff I should or read (or do) to delivering incredibly targeted advertising. And that dataset would be even more valuable if only one company had the fullest access to both kinds of data.” Yea, if one company (ahem see data center above) had access to all of this information, they would have those things. But what is the “scary” all about?

The scary is the possibility that one company would have all ownership of how we assemble ourselves within our social networks—complete control of our virtual selves. Now I know this gets us into the argument between reality and the virtual, as if both are separate.

For that I have a well-fleshed article on the lack of difference, analyzing Obama’s twitter self: http://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2012/07/16/the-president-as-a-brand/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

This is thanks to @cyborgology via Twitter.

So here we are in this journey. Facebook started the fight, and now all social networking sites are withholding sharing of their precious stash of our selves from one another. We wouldn’t want them monopolizing reality or anything, so clearly this isn’t a cause for concern.

But for those of us not modernists, we are becoming very aware of what our worth is in the Internet. After all, why would this war take place if our virtual selves were worthless? Why would they build a data retention center in the middle of nowhere to handle insurmountably massive amounts of our information?

Why?

I could go on and on about my theories, and I probably will as time goes on. However, what I would really like you all to do is research this yourselves. I would like you to assess your worth in the Internet, and decide on your own how you’d like to participate in this war that is happening whether you accept it, or not.

While you either do that, or ignore me as insane, I’m going to refrain from facebook and instagram no matter the social consequences because I know what I’m worth in the very least: being made aware of when my rights in the Internet are violated. Twitter will do this, for now. And you can find me there.

Reservoir Gray

Written 2.15.04

I killed Orange today. He kidnapped Red and beat him to a bloody pulp. Green was in it too, he drove the van. I’m looking for him now. I went to tell Purple that we have to find him and kill him also, but Purple was dead when I got to her house. There she was, with her daughter Pink, lying in a pool of her own blood on the kitchen floor. I sent her husband, Blue, into the witness protection program so we won’t see him for a while. He couldn’t take the pain and we can’t lose him. All that is left is Black and White, plus myself. I know that Gray set Orange and Green up to do this; they do work for him. Damn Mafia! Oh no, what is that? Shit, its Gray. He just shot me. Everything is blurry and I lost sight of White. All I see is Black. He’s been shot too. Gray whispers into my ear, “I’ve killed everyone, even Green. The only one left is Blue. Where is He?” “I’ll never tell.” I say for my last words. Gee, what color am I?

poetrish

i spoke with a friend this evening, of muses, of romance, of balancing invisible lines of who we are in what we write. i read some really profound poetry, and it got me diving back through some things i’ve written that resonated similar feelings.

2.21.12

I was chasing flickers of light. Did

you wait for me? Could you? I

walked in the quiet, footprints on

damp leaves. Woke up, saw you

there.

I can’t apologize for missing all

those signs, posted on the way.

Night-dreaming blind to all truth—

but, there, where there needn’t be,

was.

Clutching whispers, I carved a

space out for myself in the warm

absence you never left, and were

never there. Because I wondered.

When your hand finds its way to

mine, taking those whispers—

keeping them safe—may I shudder

in that which wakes? This is how I

move.

Nursing me back to health, you

named me (d)iscourse. Every

morning, before we left for work,

you made sure to kiss each palm—

to speak easy.

2.23.12

Hugging the curves of this desert. The only way they’ll get it out of me is to burn this desert down, watching my whispers escape as I kindle with the Joshua trees. Undressing my soul in your tender wind. Turbine kisses, tastes of temporal drought. A land felled in its own dust is still land.

2.24.12 “Based on a photo of Saturn”

That just made me fall in love with existence all over again. Someone hold my hand while I jump really high. Why am I thinking in 5s? “Here, hold on to this for a minute,” she said, pulling out the blinding everything in her heart, “it may fit.” What if it all fit in a ziplock bag and wouldn’t decompose for a million years; would you want it then? Why don’t we only love what is fragile and ungraspable? Can we love the discarded, the ugly, the previously deemed unworthy? Is another’s perceptions how we judge all things? It all comes down to the person, in all cases, with love. So we can never know the outcome of anything for sure. And that’s where I see the everything–in all possibilities we are the us we make us to be, and be. A classic example of interrupted REM sleep. Benadryl dreams, led by thoughts unguided. It all is so terribly, awfully pretty. And it is everywhere. Existence. Do you have a butterfly net I can borrow? None of these words mean the same for you as they do me. But you hear them and reach out, attempting to meet understanding halfway. Maybe these words don’t mean anything. Maybe I just felt them. Neither way makes them less true. Or more real. They are here in this now. I never said I had the answers; I just like venturing into untilled air (always looking for you).

~~~~~old stuff~~~~~~

4.4.98

desolate images being thrust to my withering nature. isolate your self – righteous exterior for the safety of my upbringing. eroding under your desert is your creation: me. subliminal downers race through your high speed chase. watch me phase, I am interchangeable. Alert eyes sketching the bounds of reality. Is anyone there? How far is my voice reaching? Are you holding on tight? Feel this psyche inside–let it wander aimlessly and passionately. Don’t put on that mask. No, I won’t let you hide. Realize this fate clutching your toes, sticking your “shoes” in the ground like cement. Look me in the eyes, face what becomes of you.

3.16.98

Raw sleeplessness. The skin peeling off me reminds me to shed my pride and change. Unknown directions take me distantly afar. The breeze of aqua causing me to reminiscence days gone by. So I say goodbye to the confusion and look forward to the hope of understanding. The only thing I take with me is the memories of mishaps and empty pages waiting to tell of satisfying encounters. Lure me into your dream, I want to taste the vivid colors and savor your fragile being. Wake in my arms that’s where you belong. Don’t poison the earthquake it was born to create destruction. You can’t see it but you feel it–well honey that’s what you need because that’s the idea.

5.24.98

Nites are sleepless now. Meeting strange, yet soothing new faces. Swallowing the whole freshness of pure surroundings and breathing in the sounds of nature. Echo in my veins the soft murmur of silence as I lay in my state of nausea. Wondering aloud the pitter patter of my own self-beat: thud thud thud. Solo gathering the masses of breaking adhesive to an essence. Dancing without structure like all the palms that sweetly waver in the balance of ecstasy. Transfer this connotation, rewrite the pointless and disdain evaluation. Bitter remorse for the finer things in life remind me that change is inevitable. So why bother with simple nuances when I must surround myself with the critique anyway? What does it matter if I refuse to hear sustaining measures of violence? I should listen to the voices of her–my resource. The only abstract theatre that can accomplish knowledge. Wither in petty artificial conclusions while I base the answers on the unknown. The only equilibrium set out to fulfill your desires, yes even standards. Take a hold, grasp my hands and encircle your fingers with mine. I will protect your pale and fragile soul.

7.6.98 “Action on the Freeway”

lonely faces desperate for contact

staring at desolate gray asphalt

eyes wander into mobile forces

hoping for a soul to hope back

soothing music may calm nerves

but absence sinks into open hearts

admire the wildlife with compassion

taste the security of Eastern petroleum

the person driving next to you–

it could be a stranger with strange thoughts

it could be someone like you

thinking like me.

[le plus d’un]

Derrida begins his text, Specters of Marx, with a brief introduction entitled “Exordium.” This beginning appears to be a thematic proposition to read it a certain way, in a certain light. I wonder whatever could that mean. *winks* Derrida initiates his discourse by teasing his audience directly with a very powerful existential statement: “Someone, you or me, comes forward and says: I would like to learn to live finally” (xvi). I read this direct address and questioning as a subversion of textual authority. It is not just Derrida writing this text, but a participatory act of wills. We are all included—any one of us daring to open this book. For me, this is where Derrida always gets me: right in the beginning. Who wouldn’t want to learn to live, and finally at that? Oh, but this is not just another quirky hook like so many first-year comp students are taught to write. This is Derrida at his sly best (which is usual).

The key to reading Derrida’s sneaky way of getting us into the ghosts of ourselves is by proposing a lack of authority. It is what follows the existential statement that really gets us thinking: “Finally but why?” (xvi). Okay, so Derrida is playing with his own language, and questioning his own authority. We are immediately called into the role of doing the same: questioning him and ourselves. To get even more complex (and we are only two sentences into the text!) we are submissively asked to focus on the notion of “finally.” But why? (hahaha)

It is perhaps best that we go backwards and look at the title of the text: Specters of Marx. Hmm… By looking at the title, we assume Derrida will address Marx. I have no doubt that he will. By looking at the title, we are being led to believe that specters are about. Oh, and they definitely are. But who are the specters? What determines a ghost?

Ah. Derrida is again winking at us.

Let’s return to the first two sentences. Derrida’s whole intent in writing this book is to get us thinking about what it means to live, and what learning to live entails. By including the “you or me” in the first sentence, he is positioning the act of living as interdependent. I use that term over co-dependent because of the very nature of these pronouns are an implied collective. A text’s audience is never one, not even a private journal. The nature of discourse-making is always an interrelated endeavour one has with all the voices surrounding our lives—as us compies know all too well.

What that means, then, to the act (art) of living begets Derrida’s following questions: “Who would learn? From whom? To teach to live, but to whom? Will we ever know? Will we ever know how to live and first of all what ‘to learn to live’ means? And why ‘finally’?” (xvi). All good questions that are getting at a further existential dilemma: the collective life. Derrida pulls the whole “it takes a village” here. Eh, he does much more than that. Derrida asks us to question what it is we are living. Not just life, a life, or a lifetime, but to live together in the ‘whatever this is’. Derrida wants the us in this text to ask what it is we are all doing here, living. And maybe if we are living at all, because finally.

He says, “To live, by definition, is not something one learns. Not from oneself, it is not learned from life, taught by life. Only from the other and by death. In any case from the other at the edge of life. At the internal border or the external border, it is a heterodidactics between life and death” (xvii). Pure blasphemy for those of us religiously oriented in Christianity and other heavily patriarchal denominations. However, Derrida iterates a premise that I touch upon in my notes on his Gift of Death. To live is to be fully aware of the ethics to the other while simultaneously aware of one’s death as an ever-present identity. Ooooo…ghosts. We, as always with a Derridean text, can read this two ways. So I ask:

is it life or death that is the ghost that follows within all of us?

I’ll leave that question to us while we move on through the text. Because Derrida does go on, and I’d like to see what he says. He continues, “Between life and death, then, this is indeed the place of a sententious injunction that always feigns to speak like the just” (xvii). […] Yea, let’s break that up/down a bit. *gets dictionary*

Sententious – (1) expressing much in few words [umm, hi you =) ] (2) full of, or fond of using, maxims, proverbs, etc., esp. in a way that in ponderously trite and moralizing [hahaha].

Injunction – (1) an enjoining; bidding; command (2) something enjoined (3) a write or order from a court prohibiting a person or group from carrying out a given action, or ordering a given action to be done.

Feign – (1) to touch, handle, shape (2) to form (3) to make up; invent; fabricate (4) to make a false show of; pretend; imitate; simulate (5) [archaic] to imagine.

Looking up words when reading Derrida is more than necessary. As you can see, these terms carry several layers—exergue for those of you who haven’t read “White Mythology”. Looking at the sentence, we notice there are several ways to read meaning into it based on these definitions. None are more true than the other, as Derrida’s pitch-perfect idiomatic brilliance always implies multiple, simultaneous readings.

But what does it mean?! Calm down, modernists.

It means that the place-space between birth and death is a metaphoric representation that seeks to define itself through its own means. Derrida is making fun of us—this includes him. Derrida says that life is merely what we try to make words for in order to limit it within those terms so that we understand its meaning. (Derrida, for the lulz) And we do this to rationalize our acts within the limits we’ve created. Think of religions, laws, and acts of normalized, Western “propriety”. All are simply, on the outset, merely attempts at fashioning our human identity.

This reminds me of something intriguing I thought up last night: we are simply trying to escape the very constructions we’ve built into ourselves.

If it—learning to live—remains to be done, it can happen only between life and death. Neither in life nor in death alone. What happens between two, and between all the “two’s” one likes, such as between life and death, can only maintain itself with some ghost, can only talk with or about some ghost [s’entretenir de quelque fantôme]. So it would be necessary to learn spirits. Even and especially if this, the spectral, is not. Even and especially if this, which is neither substance, nor essence, nor existence, is never present as such. The time of the “learning to live,” a time without tutelary present, would amount to this, to which the exordium is leading us: to learn to live with ghosts, in the upkeep, the conversation, the company, or the companionship, in the commerce without commerce of ghosts. To live otherwise, and better. No, not better, but more justly. But with them. (Derrida xvii-xviii)

So it is that we see; Derrida points out that it is these constructions of ourselves that become our ghosts. The words and texts we use to define our lives are figments of our imaginations haunting us with their presences. And, yes, they can be frightening. Here some of us hide under our covers from them. But that doesn’t make the ghosts less there. The chains always will rattle—right to our cores. Best we learn to speak with them, yea?

Derrida also plays off the notion of economy with the word “commerce” and discourse with “conversation.” Like Foucault, he is very much aware of our relationship with the texts we’ve made over the years, and our wholly naïve reliance upon them as architectures of truth. They, then, are mere shelters from storm. We are only protected from the weather underneath them; yet the weather persists, and sometimes breaks into our homes despite our best efforts to keep it out.

Because life is still outside.

In the context of this text, Derrida purposes that we take on the texts surrounding us as specters, and up our communication skills. He argues,

It is necessary to speak of the ghost, indeed to the ghost and with it, from the moment that no ethics, no politics, whether revolutionary or not, seems possible and thinkable and just that does not recognize in its principle the respect for those others who are no longer or for those others who are not yet there, presently living, whether they are already dead or not yet born. (xviii)

The purpose for this speaking with our ghosts is like ethics insurance. We must account for the things we’ve done based on the texts we made ourselves become (and often deny) as well as consider how our texts create a future we may not even see. Our relationship to life in living is both an acceptance of an insurmountably embedding within our pasts (we none of us can escape who humanity used to be) and an unflinching awareness that every text we construct now will fashion the living forever thereafter. That is responsibility. Complete responsibility. It also permits an outside to war and revolution. Gasp! How could this revolutionary say such a thing?!

I just did.

If we think about it—and I am always within the realm of possibles, so I think as much as possible—living up to this pure responsibility would create that very utopia so many of us envision. I’m not as idealistic as all that to think that highly of humanity at this moment, but we are moving in possibles now, and thank you Derrida for being man enough to be someone who lived this.

What an oddity to be writing this on a day like today where we increasingly egotistical Americans believe ourselves to be beyond our spectral pasts. We forget the blood underneath our soil. We forget the way we twisted British enlightenment ideologies into our own factionalized fractions to purport our differences (cue laughter) so that we could live “anew”. We forget that the stability of our capitalist government (yup, I said that) relies solely upon massacring people in other countries after we spend years upon years exploiting them into debt. But we light our fireworks and “Oooh” and “Ahh” together. Good for us. Monsanto’s high fructose corn syrup in our soda; radiation from reactors in Japan seeping into our coasts; and thousands of tons of plastic floating in our ocean. Good for us, light up the skies.

For Derrida: “‘Experience’ of the past as to come, the one and the other absolutely absolute, beyond all modification of any present whatever. If it is possible and if one must take it seriously, the possibility of the question, which is perhaps no longer a question and which we are calling here justice, must carry beyond present life, life as my life or our life. (xix)

He is calling to us to think about what it is we are doing when we are living. Many have asked us of this before, though not many have said so as beautifully. The role ghosts play in our lives is critical. However they are entirely dependent upon our seeing them, and our speaking with them, for them, of them. An honor must reside in order to be just. And what is honor?

Derrida kindly nudges us to consider the role we play as the ghosts we will become. Our lives are not eternal (well not in this argument, at least), thus we must come to acknowledge the ghosts we leave to haunt our children.

A young girl approached me last week with a logical attack I can never justify. She told me that it is not fair that she’ll have to pay for all the grownups’ mistakes. No, it will never be fair. Especially considering the depth of destruction our, and the ghosts’, mistakes are causing. [not] Ironically, this girl is in a wealthy family, and she’ll probably never know what it means to live through these mistakes while suffering from poverty and hardship. She’ll grow up with extracurricular activities, loving parents, no suffering of wants, and a college education of her demanded-of choice. And it is here that I think of all the children who will not have those things. Their world, though the same Earth, will not look the same. The disease we and our ghosts have wrought this planet will affect them in ways she’ll never have to know (god-willing).

So what of them? What of all of them in all the different views of this world? What are we doing now that they will suffer?

This is what it means to live with ghosts: to know we will be ghosts. And, with that, we enter into Specters of Marx. I shall do my best to rattle the chains in ways we all can hear as we proceed through Derrida’s chapters. Welcome to the haunt.

A small thought from yesterday that will become an essay soon

Currently pondering the possibilities of how the last year of protests will be reflected in history. Though MSM buries much, so many of us know how Occupy has impacted our lives in several significant cultural discourses. Those of us within this movement, and on the fringes, articulate demonstrably shifting language of what it means to live in revolution. We can argue, disagree with hegemony, fight amongst ourselves, but we are still talking within a language that questions who we all are. No matter what, the outcome of what it means to be an American and a global identity is changing simply by our questioning and protesting. Throughout many centuries, it is this assertion to challenge systemic power that has brought about monumental social change. It need not worry us how “effective” this change appears on the surface of a year, or even a few. What matters is that we don’t stop. We’ll never really know what our efforts mean in the large scheme of time. What withstands is the memory that something was fought for with a ferocity that refused to accept anything but what we all deserve. That has always been and will always be: human rights. In this way (and many might not agree), it’s even okay that we have misogynist arguments like those at #NatGat. The fact that many are there tackling language constructions about identity is tantamount. It’s just what dominant discourse doesn’t want. Dominant discourse wants us passive and coerced into patriarchal modes of capitalist ideology that tells us who we are. Instead, those of you there are embodying a praxis of defining a new identity within a very young movement. I couldn’t me more honored to know some of you, and even more happy that we have within this country people willing to define who they are. All I can say is thank you. I know you, and we, are all struggling, fighting, and risking very real threats on the quality of our lives. We have already changed so much in such a little amount of time. To think on that gives me peace. We are making something new and beautiful. My mind will never give up. My heart will never cease. I love all of you for everything that you do. It’s a perfect time to be alive.