Be gentle in this age of social expression

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[Thinking Out Loud]

'scream and shout' by Mindaugas Danys on Flickr
‘scream and shout’ by Mindaugas Danys on Flickr

There is a difference between who you are and what you do. A chasm between being and doing.

It can take a lifetime to learn who you are, but we learn this by being verb. We learn the ‘who-ness” by continually giving continual expression through doing. [And we learn this in pause and reflection.]

In drawing, writing, photographing, crafting, creating and through labour [‘arbeid’] we momentarily lose ourselves to find ourselves again. So we tweet, we draw, we write, we photograph and then we pause.

And we can come back and look on a body of action – a stream of Twitter, a month of Instagram, a year of Facebook and we can see with some detachment how we present ourselves to the world.

When we see ourselves in the rear view mirror – in reflection – can ask ourselves questions about how much closer or further we are to self. How much we’ve changed. How much more we want to change. What we’ve done, and who we want to be.

We can be the same. Or we can change. And if we want to change is social media expression useful? Transformation is movement, so perhaps it becomes easier to see the self in reflection – in the reflection of movements and cycles and seasons.

What’s useful about social media is that it can show these movements. Social offers a record of data over time. In that way social media can be useful for self-reflection, although it is merely an aspect of self, rather than one’s self.

Should we have rules or guides for social media?

1. The best part of life is boundless discovery. I think that this should apply to the social self. There should be no rules or guides for the social self. All we need to know, really, is the hinge of action and consequence. But it might be useful to know that social can be a loudhailer and a microscope, a place where we can be amplified and inspected.

2. If there are skills to be learned to become better at being social, surely these skills are play, curiosity and the tools of expression. We reveal our true nature in play. We find ourselves in curiosity. Play and curiosity are also very useful states for collaboration, sharing an discovery. So perhaps learning to be social is about creating states in which we can play and be curious.

3. If there are any guides [I prefer thinking about social guides, rather than rules], these should be the basic concepts for social interaction that toddlers are taught at play school:
– We listen carefully,
– We are polite and show respect,
– We don’t waste our own, or others time,
– We are gentle, we don’t hurt others.

[My thanks to Dave Duarte (@DaveDuarte) for our discussions on social media, and for his thinking on social media which, in part, gave rise to this piece.]


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Great writing advise and insights here from novelist, screenwriter, and game designer, Chuck Wendig:

I’m a panster at heart, plotter by necessity — and I always advocate learning how to plot and plan because inevitably someone on the business side of things is going to poke you with a pointy stick and say, “I want this.” Thus you will demonstrate your talent. Even so, in choosing to plot on your own, you aren’t limited to a single path. And so it is that we take a look at the myriad plotting techniques (“plotniques?”) you might use as Storyteller Extraordinaire to get the motherfucking job done. Let us begin.


The basic and essential outline. Numbers, Roman numerals, letters. Items in order. Separated out by section if need be (say, Act I, Act II, Act III). Easy-peazy Lyme-diseasey.


Start at the end, instead. Write it down. “Sir Pimdrip Chicory of Bath slays the dragon-badger, but not before the dragon-badger bites the head off Chicory’s one true love, Lady Miss Wermathette Kildare of the Manchester Kildares.” Rewind the clock. Reverse the gears. Find out how you build to that. Find the rest of this piece at Wendig’s blog terribleminds.

Ted Tally on The Learning Process

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Tally wrote the screenplay for The Silence of the Lambs, as well as All the Pretty Horses and The Juror. Tally was speaking at the London Screenwriters’ Festival.

An English lesson from the late, great George Carlin

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George Carlin

“A cop out is not an excuse, not even a weak one; it is an admission of guilt. When someone “cops a plea,” he admits guilt to some charge, in exchange for better treatment. He has “copped out.” When a guy says, “I didn’t get to fuck her because I reminded her of her little brother,” he is making an excuse. If he says, “I didn’t get to fuck her because I’m an unattractive schmuck,” he is copping out. The trouble arises when an excuse contains a small amount of self-incriminating truth.”

“If I were in charge of the networks”, an excerpt from George Carlin’s book, Brain Droppings. Read the full essay here.

What is philosophy for?

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“From a distance, philosophy seems weird, irrelevant, boring — and yet, also, a just a little intriguing. But what are philosophers really for?

The answer is, handily, already contained in the wordphilosophy itself.

In Ancient Greek, philo means “love” and sophia means “wisdom” — philosophers are people devoted to wisdom. Being wise means attempting to live and die well.

In their pursuit of wisdom, philosophers have developed a very specific skill set — they have, over the centuries, become experts at many of the things that made people not very wise.”

Beautifully animated this video from Alain de Botton of The School of Life  cleverly explains why philosophy is a “powerful and necessary tool of government, leadership, and personal growth in everyday life”.

Follow philosopher and writer Alain de Botton on Twitter.

Find The School of Life online.

I saw first saw “What Is Philosophy For?” at Brain Pickings – Maria Popova‘s personal [digital] inquiry into how to live and what it means to lead a good life.

How to Write a Sentence BY JAMES THOMAS

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“Sentences have been around since the dawn of paragraphs, and indeed since before that, for sentences are essentially the building blobs of a paragraph. Right here, if you’re looking closely enough, you may notice that what you are now reading in fact is a sentence. But also—some will have noticed even more well—what you are reading is a paragraph. And I could go further than that, even, to declare that you are also reading words, letters, and indeed this entire page. Nobody thought you could do it, but here we are now and aren’t you having a good time?’

Read the full article at The New Yorker.

Follow James Thomas aka @AstonishingSod on Twitter.

“Forget caution and correction … “

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Hazards of Hindsight

For a moment
forget hindsight
prudence and reconsideration
Hindsight dry-cleans your speech
Forget caution and correction
don’t render me speechless with your reason –
all I want from you is a quick artless response
that knocks judgement off into history’s oblivion
only then I’ll get a pure no, a simple yes from you
not the elusive past, I wasn’t a part of

To make any sense of history
I need an artless response
In its freshness
I can see better
the peanuts enclosed in the sturdy shell
the fresh oil in its ripened seeds.

by Monika Kumar
from Samalochan, 2012
translation by author.

Originally published at 3QuarksDaily.