Your Access

Each generation has made comments about the media available for youth of their day and complained about its appropriateness.  My mom tells stories of the Beatles were chided in their day.  Comic books came under attack as well and the late Stan Lee lead the charge against censorship of that medium.

In concert with things that are appreciated by youth there also seems to be a derision by those who don’t take the time to understand the other person’s perspective.  Thus we end up with The Brady Bunch building several episodes around the generation gap, and younger generations getting labeled as the worst ever.

It seems a bit odd that I have to spend a blog post on this because it should be obvious.  Those comments about kids these days and _______ media aren’t the norm.  In fact their quite opposite.  We have more access today to good content than at any other point in human history and our kids are pretty good at selecting it.

They’re not perfect and nor are we.  We all make mistakes as we learn to appreciate the finer things in life like the documentary about the font Helvetica or the etymology blog from the Oxford University Press.

Your access to good content has never been greater in all of human history.

What are you doing with it?

Mean Exchange

I know.  You clicked on this post because you actually thought it would be about math or accounting.  It’s not.  I will not be averaging out a series of numbers to share something cool.  Sorry to disappoint.  You’re welcome to visit Numberphile on youtube if you need some more maths in your life.

No, this post is about our demeanor and how we treat people.  Particularly, it’s about how we treat people online.  

I’ve reduced the amount of social media I consume significantly over the years.  Facebook’s feed doesn’t really show me the folks I do care about.  LinkedIn’s feed obnoxiously gives me a notification as if there was something new, but in reality it’s just another random post.  Twitter is great for brevity but I found that less actual news in my life makes me happier.  Mastodon is a pretty cool invention, but we’ll see how it turns out over time.  

One of the things I’ve noticed since being on the internet since 1994 is that people often feel the ability to be harsh to those they interact with online.  It’s not something that needs government regulation, but it is something that needs self-regulation.  Case in point.  There’s a woman named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who recently got elected to Congress.  She’s garnered a lot of attention in the process.  Some because of her age.  Some because of her philosophy.  Some because her campaign style.

Being a public figure means that she gets a good share of criticism.  I recently came across some of this criticism when I was looking at LinkedIn.  The original post began with:

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “If we work our butts off we can take back the three chambers of government, the Presidency, the House, and the Senate”. OMG help us all, Idiocracy is here…

The comments below the video were tremendously unkind.  One person even predicted that her life would crash and burn and she’d find herself doing porn in a few years.

That seems to be an easy comment to write online, but I doubt they’d have the ability to say anything in person.

I tried to take the comments a different route and said:

Pointing out that someone might be wrong is vastly different then trying to understand how they got something wrong.   This might be an inexcusable mistake based upon her position, but it’s an understandable one based upon nerves (yes talking in front of the camera isn’t easy) and the reality that the majority of the coverage for government focuses on the areas she mentions.  I know I’ve learned plenty of lessons the hard way.  I hope she’s able to weather the storm of emotion and expectations that are in front of her.   She’s walking a harder path than the one I’m on right now.  I wish her all the best.

I do try to consider how others draw their conclusions.  Life is so much less contentious when you consider others.

Of course the commentors didn’t exactly see my point of view and continued along the lines they had started.  I think the original poster using the word “Idocracy” really set the tone.  It reminds me of something we read this week that can also be found in Matthew 5:22 which warns us against calling someone a fool.  

If the world can see what we post online then so can the people we talk about, and so can God.  I’ll play it safe and try to be the same person online that I try to be in person.

woman sitting on black chair near brown table
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Rediscovering RSS Feeds

There was a day in the internet when the who experience online felt new and exciting.  In those days one of the ways I used to get the content I wanted was through an RSS feed.  An app or website would go fetch the latest feed from the list I had given it and the newest articles would appear in my reader without me having to visit the websites and work through each of their navigation methods to get at the content they contained.

This week I found a blog that’s only posted on Wednesdays and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to remember to put it into my routine to follow it.  What blog you ask?  Well, the Etymology blog at the Oxford University Press (OUP) of course!

I was able to find an RSS feed reader and can now subscribe to the blog that inspired this resurgence.  It’s been years since google killed Google Reader.  I wondered if any other sites other than OUP were still using RSS.  It turns out, most of the content I enjoy has an RSS feed reader.  Now I can go on living my life and making the internet work for me.

While I am enjoying Vivaldi as my browser, I’ve also become aware of how much of the internet requires a browser.  The browser should be one component of enjoying the world having this marvelously beautiful interconnected system, but it shouldn’t be the total of the experience.

As far as apps go, I’m agnostic.  A good RSS feed reader simply needs to let me store the various feeds and be able to read them effectively.  On Linux right now I’m using Akregator.  It’s not a perfect app, but it’s solving a problem and I’m loving the solution.

The internet works for me again!