Monday, December 07, 2009

A time for RE:appraisal

Yesterday was my birthday.

And amongst a few nice things (my wife has been active on FaceBook and reconnected with some old friends who it was lovely to hear from) there was one, truly horrible one.

Which, though it affected me badly, and still is a matter of upset, might have been the best thing that could have happened in a long time.

It was a truly awful, personal 'tweet' on my twitter page.

This person had got a very wrong end of a stick, and instead of thinking for a few seconds had sought offence which, as I am oft prone to quote, if you are looking for in any way, it will happily present itself easily whenever required.

I was shocked by the passion and the bile. All in 140 characters or less. And all because we are in a time poor world where people react rather than think, and cheap talk has more value than considered actions.

Well, and here's the 'good' bit, after 24hrs pondering, I have decided enough's enough.

I enjoy debate. I think I am good at it. And I do think what I say can have value.

But talk can also be very cheap. And pointless. I have valued Twitter for the information it has brought my way, but 9 times out of 10 it has been in a form that is hard to trust and hence needs a lot of checking.

But not just Twitter. At the other end of the communication spectrum, even the so-called 'MSM' (main stream media) is now so corrupted by agenda, dubious affiliations and the seduction of career-driving ratings in an already facile 24/7 'news' environment, nearly all 'reporting' now is commentary, and all commentary is only as good as the person passing it. And that, these days, is near zero.

I have seen Copenhagen as an iconic event, much as many other sincere, idealistic folk. But now it has arrived I think it will just be another jamboree of tribalism and hypocrites jockeying for personal gain, be it monetary, career or ego-boosting legacy coverage.

Maybe there will be 'a deal', and maybe it will involve some positive aspects. If so, great.

But I cannot see the juggernaut that is the various competing global lobbying groups being influenced one jot by what I might think, say or even if the latter resonates with the few I share my views with.

So all the Twittering, blog-surfing and contributing has to stop. It was, is, and I suspect will be mere exercises in futility.

To make a difference I have to get back to doing, even if it is just in the smallest of ways. Because a deed that is appreciated and inspires can lead on to more, bigger and maybe even better ones.

So to that very sad, angry person: thank you. But I am not above hoping that by your words I will be returned to actions that will one day come back to haunt you and what you stand for.

'A great person makes others feel small. A truly great person makes others feel great'

Words to live by. And act upon.


Dave said...

Peter, first of all, happy birthday for yesterday.

Now, it is a very sad world when an objective voice of reason is driven away by bullies and rudeness, and I appeal to you to not pull out of contributing your concisely (ok, sometimes a little verbose but nevertheless well formed and argued) and perfectly reasoned 'twopenneth' worth on various blogs and comment forums.

"I believe in freedom of speech. But I also don't like bullies on blogs, even verbal ones, as they can drive away those with something valid to say... or offer."

Now, I wonder who said that?

Oh.... there it is on the comment page on Junkk Blogspot, penned by your very own hand methinks.

As someone who always has somthing valid to say, or offer, don't let one 'twit' with a single malicious 'tweet', (on a medium commonly termed 'sh*tter' for all the unattributed drivel that is flushed through it daily), drive you away from contributing you fair and considered opinion.

They say that 'the word is mightier than the sword', but when the word is withdrawn due to rudeness and bullying, well, we might as well go back to advocating stalinism for all.

Don't let the bullies defeat you; stand up for your views and opinions; there are plenty out there who both genuinely look forward to, and value, your views, opinions, insights and thoughts.

Sam said...

I follow you on Twitter, and saw the "exchange" on your page.
Words can hurt deeply, so I'm sorry this person's careless response has hurt you.
His comment made no sense, so I would try to ignore it.
I find twitter very useful for coming across new information - not all I agree with, in any way. But I would rather have to sift through the rubbish, than never come across some of these ideas.

Not sure I'm making any sense ;-)

Anyway, more *doing* sounds good, like your funtheory ideas, but don't depart from the blogging/twitting sphere totally!

Peter said...

Dave, Sam...

Thank you. Your words mean more than you can know (verbose!!!!?:) OK, ok... but as Mark Twain once said, "I don't have the time to write a short note".)

The irony is that this person took it upon themselves to respond to an RT (retweet) I'd posted of some information they had shared. As they had not cited a source I had merely opined it was significant if true. Which they confirmed. Not sensing the warning I signs I passed (ironically with the word 'kindly' provided) on the source and the twitter @URL of the poster in an attempt to clarify and point at the source should any wish it. All within the limited/ing confines of the space available.

Yet this person seemed to deem this a challenge to their integrity and, well, the rest spiralled downhill.

What shocked me was the level of language and personal vindictiveness that the twitter system permitted/permits, and I was further worried that of all people, this chap has a vast following, and not all the most moderate or stable.

Hence following the exchange to find out what Sam took the trouble to do, and finding out their 'hero' made no sense was unlikely.

So... I allowed myself be bullied. And I am ashamed that I did. Dave, you could not have used a more potent card than my own words... crafty!

That I am up here, now, shows it is still preying on my mind.

There was a pragmatic aspect too. And that was the sheer amount of time twitter was taking from an already crowded day. Especially, and ironically, to do 'justice' to what was posted, especially if I was to RT and even more to comment.

It is one thing to scan; quite another to assess, and yet more time is required to ponder awhile and comment fairly and, with luck, objectively.

But if the bullies win then their often irrational, unthinking, extreme views can prevail ('...when all good folk do nothing...' Edmund Burke).

Sam, I fear for this reason as much as any other my 'twittering' will be much reduced. Shame (in all sense of the word) that it was 'inspired' by this event.

However, I suspect I will creep back on as it is simply too good a source of information. I may also 'RT' some I come across and feel worthy, but without comment, perhaps on occasion save for my little 'RT' prefixes such as ia (irony alert) or cd (for 'could').

But in 140 characters or less, there is too much opportunity for... 'misunderstanding' to feel safe trying any more. As my frequent critiques of the climate debate have tried to highlight, the quality of the message is too important not to do full justice to the message.

I think the 'compromise', if I may call it that, is to perhaps use twitter as but one source, and restrict my commentary back to this blog based on the most pressing (at least to me) items of the day.

So I hope highly valued fellow travellers, such as you kind folk, will still want to stay along for my journey.

There you go.... more verbosity. Sorry:(

But, as you will gather, and with great sensitivity fully appreciated, it was and is important.

I am currently devoting some time to a few things that will hopefully make the actual site better all round, so will be off the blog loop a while longer.