The day I let Twitter become my self talk...

posted 20 Jul 2011, 04:04 by Jess Maher   [ updated 20 Jul 2011, 04:22 ]

In an attempt to try and understand the difference between the perspectives and outlooks on the “free internet” and “cyber bullying” situation more generally, I have been letting myself get completely engrossed in the technologies at my disposal and have an admission…. ummm, ok while I wish I could say this was an intentional and planned process I have an omission to disclose that this was actually a complete f*ck up that I just so happened to learn quite a bit of insight from indeed… some insight I am willingly putting up here for uncomfortable judgement of a potential, disconnected & invisible “audience”. Getting your head too often stuck in a screen of some kind or another, really quickly begins to screw with your head a.
Its unnatural, you know, the fact that so many of us get up and go to work somewhere, having driven there from our homes, in these gas guzzling cars, through traffic of hundreds of others doing the same thing… We “work for the man” destined to live every Monday reliving the weekends events and then every Tuesday and week through, just longing for the weekend. We have these obsessive needs to give ourselves labels and titles and some abstract, defined construct of belonging. “Who are you working with? What endorsement is offered? Where are your project plans?” These kind of questions to me seemed irrelevant and unimportant in the larger scheme of things for a second there. In fact, even trying to sit down and have the attention span to write this, I feel myself constantly compelled to get up and move something, get a drink, turn the radio on or off… any great number of alternatives that would enable me to give myself the excuse to leave the keyboard.
Hahaha unbelievably, since the time I finished that last sentence, I managed to distract myself for almost 5 hours on a multitude of things I was busy doing… You see the longer I seemed to let myself get taken in by the now “heavy use twitter addiction” I have developed in recent weeks. See like most twitter users I’ve had my profile for probably some years now I imagine… While being a very occasional user of twitter in the past, it was really only once I started going to workshops and the such, where the “tweet stream” was live at the event on the big screen. I remember one politician at one of the events recently saying, or maybe it was tweeting, the it was the closet thing they had got to reading the audiences mind.. and I think there maybe a lot of truth to that to be honest.. But I am not wanting so much to report on what I think following the event or what it all means to me or anyone else for that matter in this post so much as I am wanting to “report my findings” if you like…
Its funny, I feel like I dived in some kind of portal a few weeks back and am slowly but surely managing to bring myself back to reality. See the thing is, when I meet James for the first time, I had “heard” about him plenty of times before… we have since worked out in fact, that we had been tip toeing around each other with various mutual friends for years before we meet-with the details recounted it sounds like I made up a cheesy story I am aware of that, so I keep it at the humorously, light level I have been trying to maintain on Twitter for the past few days especially… I had heard James was pretty smart, and on meeting him I could tell indeed, he at least thought he was pretty smart (that was sincerely my take at the time- a friend of mine, JP, always said a guy had to piss me off before I would take any notice… :P ) so I asked him what I thought was a pretty hard question, I can’t recall what the topic was now, but when he answered- I had no idea what he had said. Like he could of replied in Spanish for all I know!
See here are a few things I have always known about myself: I am mildly average at most things I attempt, I am determined, stubborn and self righteous, I have a high level of empathy and tend to perceive things in a way that some interpret to be negative or cynical… but it was now only very recently that I am able to conceptually articulate what the process of “growing up” is known to be, at least I think so-you see the internet and my recent twitter engrossed addiction, well I was at risk there of turning myself as crazy… but it is a freeing process to be able to understand something isn’t it.. I always hated on myself because I had this crazy arsed illusion that boosted and maybe even bullied somewhat by my Dad, I think he thought I must have the same “problem” and it was his responsibility to help me prepare for it in a way he knew best… but life is funny isn’t it? I would say it was twitter that made me crazy, but maybe it actually helped me in this process… I’m not sure, but without James I could have never understood it that’s for sure!

And while he right now seems like he is for the most part shit scared I am embarrassing myself, at this point I truly feel like I have little choice. Everyone in the world who will give me the time to explain myself to them either truly believes I may potentially require institutionalization or indeed maybe severely crazy and having not realized I required an audience to understand myself as I truly was that self centered, I had never for a second considered I could be self centered. See I knew being wrong was something I was open to, but I hadn’t considered that I could be like fundamentally wrong about everything. See its not till you drop every assumption and grounding till you can be truly free or so they say… see I always made a fool of myself, I knew that making a joke of yourself was ok, and when I had questions I couldn’t answer in life, well, my Dad told me to blame him or he would look into it. I know while he consciously told me to believe in myself and that I could do anything, well then I could. But it was the sense of duty that I had fundamentally been rebelling ultimately. If the process of growing requires me to accept & reqtify both the constructs of how I see myself and how the world sees me, its not that I am crazy at all. If it is a process that requires me to accept responsibility of something, well then I feel like I did it long ago. 

 Its eerie, time I mean… I’m sure it more likely that we should have some kind of ratio measure, like the length of clock hours and minutes comparatively to the number of incidents and the levels of stress induced in doing them, or something like that… but in Doha at least, (or the “sand box” as I would jokingly refer to it with Dad) it for some reason feels a little like ground hog day after a while… Its the same bright blue sky and crazy, blaring heat and then just sand. Sand and dust and more sand. I remember on that trip I went in to the desert with Dad and this professional dune driver guy he had hired for the day. We went duning through the desert, smashing it over dunes at crazy high speeds with the car flying through the air. All while casually, this guy just jokingly recounts stories of high speed, mid air collisions he’s seen in the past. While we were out there, this sand storm started rolling in, like you could see what looked like this wall of, well dust really, a real fine, fine kind of sand. Once it hit, you couldn’t see more than 30cms in front of you!

But Doha, its like this surreal other place. Like it sounds really cheesy and unbelievable, but that’s just so typical Doha, cause stuff there really is kind of backwards and story book and just crazy over there. See, back in New Zealand, when my family where living here, Dad felt he had found a way he could articulate his purpose in life. He wanted to make a ‘world of difference’, hence the foundation/charity name I guess… When they got to Doha, the thing I know that Dad was really struck by was the disperancy, the difference between the rich and the poor, the workers and the “privileged”. See its weird how in that part of the world, you have a guy in the office working as a coffee runner, (I am seriously not just being a dick and making this shit up by the way) like the guy who gets a whole stack of orders for coffee, gives it to the barrister and then returns them to people who ordered them. And seriously, this guy has like three degrees in electrical engineering or something. And they have a fault on one of the cell towers one day and my dad’s got this guy out in the field, helping them work out the problem.  Meanwhile other “work class” employees in other businesses, get probably not much difference in pay, but their accommodation would be the size of a standard Kiwi home’s main bathroom. And that would sleep four people in some cases-like the guys that sleep in the security shed at the front gates of the “compound” my Mum still lives in… Compound, I always thought that made it sound like a jail really.. 
I am rather naive as it turns out, I did not really realize that people don;'t really mean it when they "say what they think", and no one every really told me that when you ask a question and it cuts to close to an uncomfortable personal truth for someone, that silence you hear when people stir silently and shuffle in their seats- that was uncomfortable. I never really got that one. I know that sounds ridiculous, but you see you have to realise that the way I felt belonging to the world, if that again makes any sense, was through my Dad’s eyes. See, I don’t think while he was alive, there was every really going to be a time when I had not at least to some degree, valued his opinion of me any lower than anyone elses in the world I can think of. See my Dad was an insightful man, a loving, giving and kind man, he had a real warmth about him and something that made everyone he talked to feel like he had all the time in the world for them… But he was also about shock and awe, you know, that kind of jaw dropping, attention grabbing kind of spectacular. I mean this is the man who rode an elephant down Queen street for gods sake. I really shouldn’t take the lords name in vain, I hear a old Religious Education teacher of mine in my head when I say that- “don’t take the lords name in vain”. My bad. Ah religion, now that’s a topic you don’t bring up around the dinner table if one can help it, or so I am told. Well theres an interesting one… I remember a family friend once said over dinner, “oh Christians, yeah I like their beliefs but I’d rather flag it on the church and shit”.
My Dad was by no means religious, but he was quoted in a number of magazine articles as saying that he would like to go and become a monk… random I know. But you see, my grandfather, he was a priest. I’m not sure if he was always the Uniting Church but he was a great story teller and a kind, gentle soul with a bit of an indulgent side to his personality. My Dad, he liked fun. He was a bit of a party animal back in the day I hear, meeting my Mum at a dirt bike riding competition where Dad was riding side cart. He was running one of his earlier entrepreneurial pursuits where he and his mate from high school (close to my God father I guess) Mark Hambour, where running a show called “Break Down Disco”.. and they always broke down! Nanna told me about how he made them go along to one of the events so he would have an audience and how the generator kept cutting out all the time! Its something that comes with being a parent, or some may say even, growing up in the real world. See people of “my” generation, being an objective term, have always been told, “you can be anything you want in life” or “there is nothing you can’t do”. We have been lulled into false belief that for some unknown reason we have a god for saken right to be on this planet that for some reason or another must make us better than someone. Surely? Cause that’s what its all about in life right? The race? The score? The measure in one way shape or form. Is it because we need constant reassurance to feel belonging in these unfair, nasty and judgemental social groups we have unwittingly formed? Who’s your tribe? Is it you alone? Is it your nuclear family? Is it your community? Country? Facebook friends?
See I think in this turmoil of hell I seem to have put myself through, including the near insanity with the two account’s and tweeting to & about myself- I swear to god I nearly gave myself some kind of skisophenic episode! See I think its just the nature of the kind of person that I am but I am sincerely just naturally very inquisitive and I can also be a bit of a magpie, like, I like shiny things and stuff that looks cool or draws my attention! I mean, maybe there is a possibility that some of us may just mistake “fear” for “bravery” and “crazy” for “enlightened”? Or is perspective really not all that relevant…? Are the rules here to be broken or are they really just someones legacy institutional construct we are holding onto for security and comfort? Is change exciting and danger all part of the thrill? Or is a stupid, arrogant act of stupidity that comes off brazen and harsh? And why does it have to be a question? Why do we always have to know? Or in the case of determining whether or not one may have “grown up” as what I have come to understand it to be, why do “I”-they, youth (whatever term you want to put here) always have to have the last word. Potentially just stubbornness, maybe the drive for power or greed or money? Maybe everyone wants to just be right all the time? Maybe its just been our institutions telling us for so many years that we must strive for exponential growth, constant “furthering of ourselves”, what has sometimes been refereed to as mastery? Why do we Kiwis & Aussies feel this whole Distance of Tierney thing? Why do we tell each other to go away when we start becoming successful in Auckland particularly?
Like tall poppy, what is that all about a? It seems to be a result for unhappy, frustrated people who take themselves and life all a bit too seriously I imagine. I would recommend to them that they “go do ‘something fun’ for a few weeks, you might like it!” Why can’t we all just be supportive and protective of our vulnerable tribe? Who is our tribe? What defines who falls inside that boundary and what level of significance does that level of acceptance from them play an important role? Why in this context is no one asking any questions? Why when we know people of all ages are out there seemingly lost in the big bad world and in some cases- even worse, with the impulsivity and reckless dis-abandon of youth, yet without the light that one is meant to take joy in in life, through the fulfillment that to some degree somewhere and somehow in the world, possibly in a different time and space, where it is still possible to find hope and dreams alive and well.  The thinking you know everything part and cutting your own self down to size is important. But in my own learning, its interesting to consider the matter of fight or flight.… that instinct in you to just act on impulse and decide afterwards weather or not it was a good idea… I mean after all the hero is only the guy who stayed standing after all the braver, cockier ones were slayed down. I imagine the line between heroism and ignorance are also rather fine, yet I have no evidence to suggest this… 

I defiantly know the different between fear and courage and I too know what it is right and wrong in the world, but by letting technology become all engulfing and its intrusive pervasiveness really eat at ones self confidence as the sense of self goes floating out the window. I read somewhere that the younger generations have a fall removed external loci, like as in unconscious mind… that it makes them reckless and unpredictable. That kind of thing is why we created social order, and systems and structures, labels even… but that doesn’t mean that we did it write, that we shouldn’t question it or it couldn’t be up for review… Yeah sure some of them are tough questions I know and as a child I was often indulged with my confronting questions, like when I asked my grandfather, the Priest, “how did Jesus really walk on water? You can’t walk on water.” My grandfather replied, “oh I think its metaphorical really, probably a sand bar, you remember those?”

We now have in my opinion at least, one of two choices… Given the AA mantra or Lessig’s keynote speech from the NetHui conference, “we need to change the things we do not like and learn to love & accept the things we cannot change”. Rather than looking for the differences or the problems, can we just not accept that somewhere along the way, someone, somewhere must have stuffed up cause to have a government that is held ransom by this imaginary power & figure of inflated debt. We get that money is something we all have in common, but its disparate distribution among communities is insanely unbalanced… I feel some sense of duty to these amazing, generous, talented and also largely unchallenged, rebellious or disinterested youth. Give them the tools and support they need to stop resenting the world or someone in it because of the hurt they have experienced in their lives and reigned back in that “loci”. And Twitter should come with a user warning I am starting to think... If you have children on it, I would recommend making sure they use a closed and private account. In fact it would probably be worth it to make sure you don’t get to the state I did…