bookmark_borderManaging the News

One of the earliest pieces of advice I was given, in my first lecture at Glasgow Polytechnic (now Caledonian University), was to always read the newspaper. Didn’t matter what direction, read the Sports pages first if you want, but read it all, stay up to date, know what is going on in the world.

I should point out that this was before the internet took off, when news was delivered via radio, TV, or on paper, and it was good advice and, although I’ve not bought a newspaper for decades, I do try and keep up with what is going on in the world and ohhh my days what a shit show it seems to increasingly be.

That’s my perception at least, that the world is getting worse and worse, with more and more of the news being dominated by extreme acts/events/people. Wall to wall horrors assault our senses from all angles. Every day something awful happens that seems to trump (horrific pun intended) the last, and it’s gotten to the point where I avoid news broadcasts purely to avoid the direct assault on my senses.

Of course it’s likely that things only seem worse as global communication is so much better and faster so we hear abou tmore of these things as and when they happen, rather than being an article in a newspaper 2 or 3 days after the fact (if at all). These days the multi-angle assault we get across all our social media channels and news sources feels like a constant barrage and I, for one, am lost in the trenches. Defeated.

And then I read this – available to Friends of Dense Discovery – that Kai wrote:

“To combat defeatism and stay engaged, some more or less obvious things we can do: read, listen, watch broadly to gain more context; dip only lightly and occasionally into what I call ‘fast and furious media’, i.e. news and social platforms; be with friends and family; be an active citizen: sign petitions, write to MPs and join protests; donate; walk/hike/exercise; immerse ourselves in nature; help a local cause; be extra empathetic to the those around us; allow ourselves to grieve; allow ourselves to experience joy.”

Kai Brach – Dense Discovery

The dip only lightly and occasionally into fast and furious media is an approach I’ve taken over the past few years, if not longer. As a way to manage my own mental health and general wellbeing, it’s akin to the steps I’ve taken to remove toxic/negative people from my life. I do not need the drama.

Of course the rest of his advice resonates, immersing myself among the trees, or along the shore of a loch, is a surefire way to reset my humanity. And of course it’s also important to take a step back and remember that the one thing that news media has gotten very good at is reporting on atrocities. Alas they don’t report on the good things all that open. The world isn’t all that bad, on the whole.

In short; The world is awful. The world is much better. The world can be much better.

So my advice on how best to manage your consumption of world events? Turn off the news, pause a moment, look up at the clouds as they scroll overheard, find moments of beauty in your day and… breathe.

There will ALWAYS be more news tomorrow, let it go for today.

bookmark_borderMatthew Perry

Many years ago there was one of those early internet meme things doing the rounds. You picked three TV characters you thought best represented you, mine were;

  • Toby from West Wing – intelligent, with a heart in the right place covered by many layers of grump and snark.
  • Chandler from Friends – smart, sarcastic, but a good friend with a true heart.
  • Gordon the Gopher – the last pick and more than a little tongue in cheek.

(If I’d put more thought into this, I’d swap out Gordon the Gopher for Lorelai Gilmore because ‘attitude and coffee’).

It was, as ever with such things, a little more than just a quick/silly thing to do and my first two choices were near instant such was the strength of my identification with the characters. I’d enjoyed watching Toby interact in the world of the West Wing, his passion and virtues and single minded determination sometimes making him unpopular but always garnering respect. And Chandler, for me at least, went through the widest character arc on Friends, from the anxious, wise-cracking guy (humour as a defense mechanism, hello!) to a mature, kind, but still a bit silly and flawed adult.

It’s probably a little hard for anyone who didn’t grow up with Friends when it was first being broadcast, who doesn’t remember when the 4th channel was added to UK TV and who now has an enormous selection of media to consume, to fully grasp the impact Friends had at the time. It was what we talked about in the pub, it was what we looked forward to when a new episode was due, it was a huge part of our lives. EVERYONE watched it.

Chandler was, instantly, the character I was drawn to. Overshadowed in popularity by Joey, not as accomplished as Ross, he was an obvious comparison to how I viewed myself and his sarcasm was the icing on the cake. It’s probably telling that his lines are the ones I remember, the ones I mimic, the ones I subconsciously try and re-use.

Like Robin Williams before him, it feels particularly wrong that Matthew Perry is gone. His addictions were well documented of course and despite his fame, particularly with Friends, he wrote about hoping that his legacy was the good he tried to do for others, even if he knew it would mostly about his once-in-a-lifetime role as Chandler Bing.

I’ll admit I’m finding it a little odd just how hard his death as hit me. Like Bowie, and Kobe, their deaths struck me hard (oddly despite being a huge fan, when Prince passed I didn’t feel the same depth of sorrow, I wonder why). Like Bowie, and Kobe, Matthew will always be remembered by one name, Chandler.

His was the only character in Friends to make me cry. Particularly a recent rewatch just before our baby was born, when Chandler confesses his own insecurities about becoming a Dad, mirroring my own thoughts at the time. I didn’t doubt that I’d be a good Dad, flawed and always learning, but a good father to our child, and then Chandler said this…

“My wife’s an incredible woman. She’s loving and devoted and caring… and don’t tell her I said this, but the woman’s always right. I love my wife more than anything in this world. … And when that day finally comes, I’ll learn how to be a good dad, but my wife, she’s already there. She’s a mother without a baby.”

Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry), The One with the Birth Mother.

I do wish that Becca wasn’t always right but she is, and she is a natural mother to our son.

Of course, as Chandler, I laughed more with him than any other character and I think that’s key, a lot of the jokes are against the other characters, but with Chandler (through my eyes at least) it always seemed like we were in on the joke with him. It takes a special skill to deliver performances like that, week after week, doubly so given he was fighting his addictions for several of those years on the show.

I, and no doubt many others, will go and read his memoirs and find out all the things we didn’t know and I hope that I can at least honour his memory that way, by starting to remember him more for all the other good things he did.

But I won’t ever lose sight of the goodness and joy that he brought into my life as Chanandler Bong.

R.I.P. Matthew Perry

bookmark_borderIsrael-Gaza war

I have so many thoughts on the current situation but lack the knowledge to properly articulate them.

I am on the side of humanity, I wish the killing would stop, from both sides, and that somehow Israel and Hamas find the strength to stop acting like children (you bombed us, so we bombed you…) as there is no end game to this, only more death and destruction.

Which sparks the question I know others have asked, what IS the end game here? What does Israel hope to acheive right now? They have set themselves on a path and the only place it can go is the continuing massacre of innocents, on both sides. Hamas won’t stop, Hamas aren’t all in Gaza so you won’t eradicate that faction by levelling the Strip, all that I can see happening is that Israel swallows Gaza and whoever survives the current bombings becomes an enemy of the state within.

I have no answers, no solutions, I’m not part of that world but regardless, watching from afar I can only hope that cooler heads prevail, that the desire to save face is removed, and that somehow the bombings stop.

This conflict will not end in the coming weeks or months, or years. And it won’t be stopped by more deaths, on both sides of the battle. It’s horrifying. A ceasefire is the very least we can hope for and I hope it comes quickly.

Best discussion I’ve heard on this:

bookmark_borderBye bye Europe

My first visit was to northern France on a posh camping trip with my parents. We drove down, got the ferry across (to St.Malo I think), and then head to southern Brittany to a pre-erected tent with beds, a fridge, cooking equipment, table and chairs. It was warm, but a different kind of heat than I’d ever experienced a dry, crisp heat, different from the muggy humid heat of a Scottish summer. I was 15.

The next year we did the same, visiting different camp sites (but always with everything ready and waiting for us when we got there), and I also went to Ibiza for a fortnight. What a summer that was, five weeks of holidays!

Then it was southern Spain for many years, with my in-laws owning property in Nerja, and latterly Torrox. Cheap flights and accommodation, guaranteed sunshine, we took as much benefit of those times as we could.

After that my next country was Hungary, a visit to Budapest with friends, then Denmark and Copenhagen for a work conference, and more recently I took myself to Germany to visit Berlin and last year we headed to Sweden for a wonderful long weekend in Gothenburg.

It’s been a few days since the UK officially left the European Union. Brexit was voted for by the majority (a few years ago), and we have a political party who drove it home knowing it would allow them to retain power for a few more years at least.

Europe still exists, of course, but it’s different now. Well, not now, the trade agreements, the laws, the ratification and debate will take some time to come to decisions on some things so for a while nothing will change. Until slowly, the change begins.

I don’t know what those changes will be, it seems likely that we will end up paying more for things than we have in the past. It may mean it becomes cheaper to visit non-European countries, or prices travel out of the reach for many people. It may mean some of the things we have grown used to having are no longer available to us, be they products, services, or just cultural experiences.

I did not vote for Brexit.

I do not know what the future will hold, maybe it will all be fine.

But my real fear isn’t in the cost to me (although that fear is real and valid) but that this is one more step towards a more nationalistic view, the return to the sovereign state, the continued focused on southern England as the ‘UK’, and the slow eradication of all the wonderful regional differences that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland currently enjoy.

Brexit might be the best thing that has ever happened to the UK, for all citizens of the UK. I doubt it but I’m trying to remain open-minded. However it’s very very hard to do so when we are now governed by a group of people who I do not trust, and have no faith in to act in anything other than their own best interests. They are more interested in being IN power and retaining that power, than any of the responsibilities that come with that.

As Douglas Adams wrote:

The major problem—one of the major problems, for there are several—one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.
To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.
To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.

And here I falter. I am scared for the future. My future, your future; regardless of where you come from, where you now live, what you work as, what colour your skin is, what religion you follow, what people you are attracted to, what your disability is, how much money you earn.

And again I falter to find the words, and so I turn to others.

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power. —Abraham Lincoln

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any. —Alice Walker

We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. —George Orwell

In Scotland, of course, there is a different discussion, one driven by the hope for Independence, one revived by the outcome of Brexit, one which calls for a step away from the increasingly blusterous and dismissive noise of Westminster. I’m not sure what the future holds there either.

I’m not sure 2020 is going to provide many answers and this has been my issue all along, it started with the first Scottish Independence Referendum and burbled along with no small measure of bamboozled amazement in the run up to the Brexit vote and beyond.

I woke in a field in Glastonbury to the Brexit news. It sent a shock-wave through the festival that day, dominating the conversation with random strangers bumped into in bars, at stages, whilst eating food. What on earth happened and, more pertinently, what happens next?

And there it is, the question no-one could answer back then, and the one that no-one can answer today; What’s Next? How will things sit by the end of 2020? By the end of 2021? By the year 2030??

It all feels so reactionary, so short-sighted and blinkered and badly considered. No-one on either side can do little more than provide a brief commentary of guesses and blundering nonsense, sound-bites to placate the masses.

Perhaps my real fear is the growing realisation that, despite having million dollar budgets, thousands of workers, and surely no shortage of intelligence (somewhere), the people running the country have little to no idea how any of this will pan out. The growing realisation that all my adult life I’ve presumed that that was their job, to look at the bigger picture, look beyond today and tomorrow, and that they might act with a sense to the greater good, seems to proving false.

How naive.

bookmark_borderPoo emoji distractions

A thought experiment/rambling thoughts of the current state of the world and my space in it.

Seriously, I’m not even sure why I’m posting this.

My name is Gordon and I am a contradiction. Like many of you I am aware of the world around me through the media that I survey. I believe climate change is real and that we all need to do something about it. I believe that the rich and powerful are only growing more rich, more powerful, and more arrogant in their beliefs, and that is very much not a good thing.

This is not a post about Trump/Johnson or their ilk, I do not want to talk about entitled rich boys who bluster and lie and care for nothing. These are broken men in positions of power and yet somehow I am partly responsible for letting that happen.

Climate change I can impact in small ways. Like the man who planted a tree a day and rejuvenated acres of desert to forest, the decisions I make everyday have an impact. I eschew reusable coffee cups and bring my own. I have never used straws but now request them to be absent from my drinks. I recycle, I renew, I make concerted efforts to step away from the consumerism train that is ohhh so easy to find oneself riding.

There are other examples of course, small steps taken in the hope that they will collate and gather with others and somehow make a difference, even though we aren’t sure exactly what that difference will be.

So, that’s me. But what of the powerful, the elected, the rich white men who refuse to dirty their hands? How do we call them to account? Extinction Rebellion are on the right path, our governments need to step up and lead, but that requires those rich white men to change habits that would impact them, that would weaken the power they so so desperately crave, not to mention reduce the riches they are accumulating. Regardless, protests are building momentum and the early signs of change are starting to appear.

I return to the personal, how do I balance this all out?

I walk past two large chain coffee outlets on my way to work each morning; Starbucks and Cafe Nero. Which is better to get coffee from? I don’t mean which makes the better coffee (subjectivity be damned) but of them which is the company that is trying to do good in the world, that is holding itself accountable for the things it can control. I’ll bring my reusable cup but what are they doing to contribute to this and, perhaps more crucially, how much of what they say they care about is true?

I recently wrote about my internal switherings and lack of moral standing when it came to getting a new iPhone which, it turns out, was simply a way for me to weirdly justify a purchase of want over need. I’ve spent many years always getting the last shiny iPhone and all the fancy new features which, inevitably, I only really get to grips with towards the end of the renewal cycle just in time to get yet another new shiny model dangled in front of me.

New hardware is one thing, but each year and each upgrade, I’ve experienced the same set of emotions; a building excitement of the new shiny iPhone and, as all I tend to do is shift the software over, the slow burning realisation that it’s just the same that I had been using day to day, the same apps and experiences, just with a new case, or tweak to the battery life.

But let’s look more closely at what’s held within that smartphone, not just the parts and pieces and thingymejigs that Apple are so fond of soft-porning at us, but the apps themselves. I find myself sucked in to the usual social media apps purely because of the number of people I know who use them, so it makes sense for me to use them as well to make connections and have more joyous shared experiences, right?. After all, that’s what the Facebooks of our world promise.

And yet despite all those clever adverts and seemingly well placed intentions it is clearer and clearer that as our society disintegrates and crumbles into the powerful (rich) and the weak (poor), so these apps are conversely growing, merging and becoming so large that, within the spaces they create, they are now facilitating the very splintering of society that the early promise of social networks railed against, nay, promised it would counter.

Perhaps the phrase dumbing down is apt here as the further we delve into social media models and interactions, so we find our own usage of them has driven the problems we see today. News is now a snippet, a word bite with little exposition or explanation. Nuance takes on the weird vagueness of a word from ye olden days that was once common place but is now that thing that used to happen, you know, back then when we used to be patient enough to read a little more on a subject in a quest to better understand it. And today? Well, today we have beliefs and movements that are built on the back of ambiguously worded tweets and to hell with things like facts and proof. Both left and right wings create circular logics which expand and bloom and quickly lose all shape and semblance of their origin.

And it’s in our social media that these things play out day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute and then, before we know it, Brexit day is here and no-one on either side of the political landscape really knows what to do or even how we got to precisely where ended up and, rather than trying to figure it out, simply offer us more soundbites, more vaguely worded morsels (always a giveaway when they use big words), and ever more deliberately oblique informati… (godammit they’ve gotten to me as well), LIES, LIES, LIES.

And behind it all, the entitled, arrogant, rich and powerful white men nod and smirk then return to their private clubs and large houses while everyone else goes home to whatever debt laden building they occupy and wonder how they will make their credit card payments this month and, with all this raging anxiety, look for a distraction and pick up their smartphones….

And lo, they cry CONSPIRACY!

I’m not buying that though, and not just because I’m trying to wean myself of the trends of rampant consumerism…

No, I’m not saying this was all planned out – it would be a massive feat to socially engineer the populace thus, not to mention get the IT companies to play along – and given where we are today, with rising right-wing movements across Europe not to mention actually in power in the UK and USA, and sometimes it’s all you can do not to just stand and gawp as it all unfolds. And then you catch yourself and realise you need to try and do something, anything to help, if even only for your own sanity.

And so you say NO I do not need a plastic straw, and YES I brought my own refillable water bottle.

It were ever thus of course, and no doubt historians are all quietly murmuring along to the strains of a Reich-this, and an empire that. Mankind has always imploded at various points in time, so perhaps it all just feels the more unexpected and fervoured because, as well as the divisions that we have created, we are also simultaneously destroying the very planet on which we depend.

And lo, the end is nigh!!

Ahhh, but is it? As ever civilisation will take a hit and move on and once more find balance and 100 years later the ancestors of those self-same murmuring historians will look back and marvel at the decisions and events that played out and ended up with that particular buffoon as Prime Minister of the UK. Yet the larger fear is that in a few hundred years there will be no historians around to document the end of civilisation at all as the planet will have had its share of us and the remaining humans will be finding out that they are no longer the dominant species on the planet.

And having said all that there is, of course, the realisation that my own little social media bubbles are part of the problem. The polarising views we are seeing are only from those who are making all the noise, the vast majority of people remain ambivalent at best, looking on at various world events with a sense of detachment. Brexit is happening, but it’s happening over there, and with those people, none of whom we trust regardless of which side they purport to be on. Trump is real but only the brashest voices stand up to oppose him and so the cycle continues with voices becoming louder and louder, shriller and shriller, and it’s still just rich white men acting like the little spoiled boys they are. Why shouldn’t they, there are no consequences for them, after all.

So let’s play a game. Single use plastics are the bane of the modern natural world so we are cutting down our use of them. Climate change achievement unlocked. But what of the bane of the modern intellectual world, those flickering screens we scroll and scroll and scroll day after day, hour after hour to distract us from the growing list of horrors perpetuated from behind locked doors by rich white men?

I use Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp everyday. All three are owned by the same company, a company which has gotten shadier and shadier in spite of being hauled in-front of an (incompetent) panel of American politicians, as well as having had some extraordinary revelations on their working practices revealed to the world; yet it continues to grow.

With all of that in the background, and half a mind on reducing the amount of time I spend on my phone/social media, I’ve been wondering what it would be like to ditch all three.

Let’s start with the big one, the main hub of Facebook. I find it most useful for learning about local events and gigs, occasionally for organising an event, and for wishing people Happy Birthday.

If I wasn’t on Facebook the thing I’d miss the most would be the events. Facebook do have a separate app called Local for those though, but obviously that still falls into the world of Facebook which would defeat the purpose here. Equally it can be fun to see someone else you know is also attending and I’ve used that a few times to get together with people at events that I would’ve missed otherwise.

Everything else I do with Facebook, the groups I’m a member of, the memes I share, are all very easily dropped as the value to me is low. That scrolling feed of images and videos is a distraction and little more.

WhatsApp is the main form of communication with all but one of my friends. We have a family chat on which we are regaled with videos of my niece, arrange family get-togethers, and make jokes about jobbies to annoy my Mum (the wonder that is the poo emoji truly knows no bounds!). I have a few other group chats on there which all serve a specific purpose and of all the Facebook owned apps I think this is the one I’d miss the most. Now, if I could get everyone else I know to switch to something else (Telegram perhaps) then that would be great, but the friction involved means it is highly unlikely to happen.

Of the triumvirate, Instagram is the one I enjoy the most. I have long enjoyed dabbling in photography and it’s an easy outlet for the creative juices. It also still remains (that damned non-chronological ordered feed aside) the simplest to interact with and has managed to retain a base level of good feel to it. I don’t bother with Stories all that much but do enjoy scrolling through the images shared.

Ditching Instagram would be the hardest of the three on a personal level then, and I guess I can look to a return to Flickr as a go to place.

But what of it? Pull the plug and revel in the smug self-satisfaction of the entitled? After all, I am an affluent, middle-aged white man, it is my place in this world to do little and reward myself. On the flip side they say it is never too late to change.

And look at where I am now, pontificating over which of the many apps I have installed on my expensive new smartphone, is the least evil. I am Gordon’s sudden realisation of a first world problem.

Yet all of this, ALL OF THIS, is within the bubble I have created for myself, and yes it is a first world problem which means I need to be part of the solution. Yet I cannot speak to the current drug tendencies of teenagers because there is no way for me to know that without extending my bubble. Female genital mutilation? Aside from knowing it happens and is barbaric and awful, what else can I add to that conversation? Abortion, rape, religious prosecution, racial harassment, none of these things am I qualified to speak to.

And yet they are there, in my social media, slipping past from time to time. I have opinions and thoughts but firing MORE of those into social media, well, isn’t that what got us into this damn mess in the first place?

I am fully aware that removing myself, one individual, from social media is a fallacy, a drop in the ocean, it would barely register to any other than those listed as Friends and even then, how many would notice? No no, I am not looking for a self-pitying reassurance that I would be missed, far from it. Instead I am questioning my own inner conflicts, wondering when a stronger voice will take hold and push me to one side or another.

On the one hand I hold my efforts to be mindful of commercialism, my recycling/reusing attempts, and a desire to leave this world better than when I left it (or at least my teeny tiny part of it), and on the other the mind-numbing distraction of the social media which in turn has helped educate me about the need to be mindful of commercialism, that has shown how less is more.

It remains a quandary and I wonder if I’m just not strong enough to take a stand, too scared to turn off my social media feeds and hope that people will still reach out to me. They might, if I announce it, but I have to presume that over time, without the immediacy and front-and-centre attention spots that social media offer, I would slowly fade away like a photo of Marty McFly.

I look wonder what is coming, what the next news report will bring, and I find that that too scares me. It doesn’t feel like this cycle is close to ending, it is still building to a crescendo and hope is all that gives me a sense of lose purpose, scanning the horizon for any sense of a new direction or, perhaps, a knight in shining armour (likely a person who does not identify as male, riding what may be loosely defined as a unicorn, no?).

I’m old enough to know that knight is not coming. I know we got ourselves into this mess and as a single humanity we need to find a way out of it, or to at least reverse the direction in the hope (there’s that word again) of finding some perspective, of returning some balance in the midst of all this upheaval. I’m not hankering for a return to how things were but I deeply desire a future that is different from the one that is looming towards where I stand, helpless and seemingly powerless to do anything except stand and watch whilst it engulfs me.

Until then, I’ll need Facebook to make sure everyone I know is safe and to keep up with the latest news on Brexit, as well as the latest video of a dog trying to catch its own tail with hilarious consequences that end up, after 4 minutes and 56 seconds of rather dull footage being neither hilarious nor consequential in the slightest and with that disappointment I’ll let the next video play in the hope it brings sweet relief and I bury my head deeper and deeper in the social desert.

Until then, I will recycle and re-use, I will buy less and fight the desires of want over need. I will try and spread love and understanding and consideration, I will try and speak up to counter racism, sexism, and all other forms of prejudice should I see them. I will make mistakes but I will try and be better. I will share all of this on Twitter to help amplify the voices of those I support.

Until then, I will bide my time by walking in the woods and trying to capture the perfect image of sunlight through the trees that will look wonderful with the Clarendon filter applied when I post it to Instagram.

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll send a poo emoji message to my Mum.

Such are the end of times.

At least I will go out laughing.

bookmark_borderStop blaming Facebook

“The next two decades it’s gonna be privacy. I’m talking about the Internet. I’m talking about cell phones. I’m talking about health records and who’s gay and who’s not. And moreover, in a country born on the will to be free, what could be more fundamental than this?”
~ Sam Seaborn, The West Wing.

In case you missed the news, it turns out that tens of millions of people have had their Facebook data used by a company called Cambridge Analytics to help skew the last US Presidential election (good summary here). The joys!

Facebook privacy has always been a bit of an open secret, at least to those who work in IT. You can control a lot of the data that you give to Facebook, but every interaction you have adds to the huge amount of data they have access to and, as this particular ‘usage’ demonstrates, it isn’t all that hard to get more with a simple social hack; Hey, which Muppet do you resemble? Tell us your gender and a few other seemingly inconsequential pieces of data … hahaha you fell into our trap!

I am not preaching for a place of innocence either, I’ve filled in many of these daft little ‘games’ on Facebook, I have an active Instagram account where I sometimes include location information, I ‘check in’ to venues, I like and share articles and event posts. All of this adds to the bank of data that Facebook knows about me, and it sure isn’t rocket science to figure out that I’m a white, male, liberal, left-of-centrist who attends a lot of events in the Glasgow area (mind you, you just need to follow me on there to get a sense of any of that).

The details around this current headline grabbing sequence of events are still emerging but, regardless of whether you knowingly took the personality test that Cambridge Analytics posted or not, it’s the darker, blurrier edges of ‘my data’ that are finally making many people sit up and consider the implications.

I don’t think this is the end of Facebook, far from it, but I do hope it’s the beginning of a greater awareness for more people. For many years we’ve had it easy, blithely ignoring things like privacy because, after all, Facebook is a company and companies are held to account by … someone … somewhere, right? It’s another change in our online usage to which many of us will need to adapt; continually checking what data our apps and systems are sharing and who they are sharing it with, fact checking news to confirm if it’s fake or not, a higher state of vigilance than many of us have employed before.

Is this the payback for all those years of ‘free internet’? The assimiliation of all that free data is now coming back to bite us in the bum? Perhaps.

Or perhaps it’s society starting to move fully into the information and digital age, an age our parents can’t fully understand, one built in the cloud and manipulated by the behemoths that occupy those spaces, looking down on us like the gods they think they are.

Viva La Revolution? #deletefacebook? I don’t think so, but #bemoremindfulwithyourdecisions isn’t quite as catchy.

Yes, Facebook could and must do better in this space, transparency would help but I doubt it’ll ever happen, their entire business model is built on this kind of thing but regardless, blaming Facebook entirely is not a new line of thinking. Yes, I think they shoulder some of the blame here but whilst we have the pitchforks sharpened, perhaps we all need to look a little closer to home.

Step 1: