ON LINKEDIN THERE IS CONSTANT TALK ABOUT LEADERSHIP, ON FACEBOOK ABOUT FOLLOWING. LEAD AND FOLLOW, WHY ARE THESE THINGS SO IMPORTANT? OR ARE THEY?
I better understand the need to lead than to follow. If you are the head of a company or an orchestra conductor you need to lead.
I can also understand the impulse to follow — the pack if you are a wolf, a circle of good friends or kindred spirits going on a pilgrimage. (Let´s also mention the dictates of fashion.)
But what Facebook calls follow is not about joining a group of pilgrims with a common goal. It only means getting news about, perhaps spy upon, maybe even stalk.
Yes, sometimes I follow somebody on Twitter, lead a workshop or guide music tasting. But apart from that I want to be neither leader or follower. Just a mensch, trying to find and walk my path with heart.
That is why I neither follow nor can be followed on Facebook.
Companies hire orchestra conductors to hold workshops in leadership. As I see it a conductor is not so much a leader as an inspirer, a coordinator, telling the musicians how to conduct themselves in a certain piece of music.
Above all he creates unity in diversity, a shared interpretation of a symphony with perhaps hundred musicians of different ages, temperaments and shoe sizes.
But a CEO does the same, someone protests.
That may be, but what is the product of his company? Freedom or dependence? Another consumer article, app or gadget that “we cannot live without” — or a moment of serene, weightless freedom, perhaps even self-recognition when we see ourselves in the mirror of music?
A conductor is no CEO. He does not run a company. He writes beautiful words (in a strange language) in air!
THE INTERNET, MOBILE PHONES AND NOT THE LEAST FACEBOOK ARE TERRIFIC / TERRIFYING INSPIRATIONS FOR C E N T R I F U G A L I T Y, THAT IS, FOR LEAVING THE HERE AND NOW FOR THE MORE EXITING THERE AND THEN.
FACEBOOK IS VERY MUCH PART OF OUR LIVES, BUT I NEVER SAW A MANUAL FOR HOW TO USE IT WISELY, IN A CENTRIPETAL WAY. HERE ARE SOME TIPS FOR STAYING “AT HOME” IN SPITE OF ATTEMPTS TO COAX US INTO EMIGRATING TO OUTERNITY.
UPDATE/ ADDENDUM September 26 2017–
Here’s a new Dogma rule. I have treated notifications like wine for some weeks and can report that it does small wonders for my peace of mind.
§ Don´t read Notifications, at least not often
Why not? Because at least for me, this is possibly the most distracting attention-grabbing Facebook element of them all.
Sure, sometimes notifications concern something important, but usually they can wait. Let them age like wine!
First, let´s not be afraid of the word “dogma”. Think of Dogma 95 of filmmaker Lars von Trier, basically just some self-imposed rules. Dogma can mean positive limitations; by restricting ourselves we can free ourselves. (More interesting dogma rules at the end of this article.)
Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, let´s establish two very basic ideas in relation to Facebook, two mottoes.
Motto 1: “All things are poisons, for there is nothing without poisonous qualities. It is only the dose which makes a thing poison.” (Paracelsus)
[Even pure water can poison you if you overdose and drink too much of it.]
Motto 2: “If you consume attention, add value.” (Tim Ferriss)
I used Facebook for about 5 years, then abandoned ship.
After a year-long break I am back, and I intend to do it better this time. Also differently, since I am not so much present there as represent. That might not be your case, but you might still benefit from my Facebook dogma (or not).
Keep in mind that these are rules written for myself. When I use the word “you” I am talking to myself. I actually mean me. (Which in your case would mean you, but… oh never mind.)
Here are my dogma rules in no particular order.
§ Resist the temptation to tell trivial details about your life
Remember Tim Ferriss: If you consume attention, add value. That should be framed and put on the wall. If you don´t follow this rule you might turn into a beggar or attention-thief.
Or like-whore. That´s a harsh word for someone who is always looking for ways to get “likes”. A better term (still harsh but a least a verb) is like-whoring: an activity that many of us can slide into at weak moments when feeling empty. In those moments a single “like” from a FB-friend you haven´t even met can make you smile.
§ Don´t join discussions that you sense will go nowhere
However fun they may seem, don´t join discussions that you can predict will be long-winded, agitated and depleting. Just say no to exchange of opinions that are really exchange of verbal blows. Not worth it. People usually hold on to their convictions anyway and afterwards you will feel not enriched but drained. There is a juicy old quote about this. “If you wrestle with a turd you will be beshit whether you fall over or under.” I am not calling anybody “turd” but the logic stands; to be a winner is sometimes just as bad as being a loser.
§ Watch out for the malady “comment-itis”
That´s when you feel that you MUST comment on something. Avoidance is the best cure; don´t even start commenting. And of course it helps if you don´t stand in the way of temptation: read fewer posts.
§ Differentiate between what concerns you and what doesn´t
FB is terrific at misleading and confusing us on this point, making trivial and for me absolutely non-important things and links seem urgent in some perverse way.
Pretentious people are tiresome. Have just as little patience with news and buzz pretending to be important.
§ Don´t over-overganize your FB-friends
In the past I had something like 15 friends categories, and you can imagine what I became: a FAFA (Facebook Friend Administrator). Three is just enough.
So many communication tools are asking (forcing) us to be administratiors (administrator + traitor of time). The time boat is leaking.
§ Recognize withdrawal symptoms
If you get all nervous and fidgety if you have been away from Facebook for two days (or hours) you have your diagnosis. Ask yourself if you want FB to be that important in your life.
Resist the temptation to assemble, maintain and build your self-image and feeling of self-worth through FB. Do that elsewhere. Throw away the crutch and don´t forget that you can walk. (At least you could, before you joined FB.)
§ Don´t make FB your only channel of communication
Educate your friends if necessary and tell them that “No, I am not available on FB all the time. Mail me or send an SMS. Or be radical: Phone me up!”
If we allow FB to become our only channel of communication we will feel forced to log in. The remote control is used against us.
§ Don´t be afraid to unfriend tiresome people
Life is too short for being irritated at people that you don´t have to have nearby. (Some you have.) Decide on the number of allowed blunders, then cut the cord. On the other hand, if you stay away from discussions you might never reach that stage of irritation.
§ Don´t spy
FB is in at least 2 ways a spy tool.
1) The sixth richest person on the planet (that´s Mark Zuckerberg) and his cohorts gather information about you and your private life, your taste in books, movies, music, friends, your life history, telephone number, address and marital status. They don´t ask about sexuality yet, but that might come. This is a real good reason to lie about yourself.
2) FB members spy on each other.
If you need information about someone and don´t want to ask them directly, go and check their page. But if you make a habit of this you might get depressed and lose valuable time.
Life is too short for spying on others. Spy on yourself instead, find out things about yourself that you didn´t know.
§ Don´t start and end the day with Facebook
That´s like going out into a windy field, opening your mouth and wondering what will end up there. Remember, sometimes an open mind is as bad as an open zipper. Sanctify the Alpha and Omega of your day.
§ Log and run!
Learn a lesson from traffic hooligans: Don´t stay around.
Log in, do your thing (whatever that is) and log out. If you just hang about like a leaf in the wind you will be tempted: you will read, comment, engage, debate, argue, get mad, waste time. This can be fun and even therapeutic for a short while, but remember Paracelsus.
§ Ask yourself, would I post this if I KNEW for sure that I would get zero likes? If “yes”, post!
§ Don´t make others jealous
I had a FB-friend who always posted statuses from the top of the world. He was sitting on a mountain top (with good coverage, it seems), with the best wine in the world, and the most beautiful woman alive. Always variations on this theme.
Even if that was true, what´s the point of telling the world about it? If you really care about your fellow man, write “One more month (year) down and out in the gutter…”. That will remind your friends of how good their life really is. They can quote Oscar Wilde and feel smart, send you love and comfort and feel magnanimous. But they will not feel jealous/lousy.
Statistics (here, here,) indicate that Facebook makes people depressed when they compare their real lives, warts and farts and all, with the possibly beautified and doctored Seen through the FB-lens-lives of their Facebook friends.
Don´t be a part of this process.
Finally, remember that you need to be something of a snake charmer with Facebook. FB is like a snake, use it well and you will make good medicine from its venom. Use it less well and it will hypnotize, paralyze and devour you. Dosage is all important (Motto 2).
I´ve been thinking of a good way to visualize the dynamics of Facebook. This is what I came up with.
Imagine a long corridor (the longer the more FB- connections you have). Along this corridor there is one room each for your FB friends. Each room has a door, you can go there and take a look inside, perhaps chat with the person sitting there.
So far so good.
Now imagine that nobody stays in their room but hang out in the corridor. What a messy and noisy crowding that will be with 3000 or even 300 people. You can barely walk or move or hear your own thoughts.
But… if that is the case, what are YOU doing in the corridor? Why aren´t you in your room?
But where is my room, you ask.
The way I see it, my room (and home) is my name. What Facebook calls HOME is the lava stream. “Notifications” shows a number indicating things you have to take care of. The lower the number the better, if you ask me.
I wish you happy and harmonious Facebooking.
I promised some more dogma rules. Here are the remarkable rules of warfare of Nietzsche. The war spoken of is mental, intellectual war, of course, so this is of value for writers and philosophers.
First: I only attack causes that are victorious; I may even wait until they become victorious.
Second: I only attack causes against which I would not find allies, so that I stand alone – so that I compromise myself alone. – I have never taken a step publicly that did not compromise me: that is my criterion for doing right.
Third: I never attack persons; I merely avail myself of the person as of a strong magnifying glass that allows one to make visible a general but creeping and elusive calamity. Thus I attacked David Strauss – more precisely, the success of a senile book against the ‘cultured’ people of Germany: I caught this culture in the act.
Thus I attacked Wagner – more precisely, the falseness, the half-couth instincts of our ‘culture’ which mistakes the subtle for the rich, and the late for the great.
Fourth: I only attack things when every personal quarrel is excluded, when any background of bad experiences is lacking. On the contrary, attack is in my case a proof of good will, sometimes even of gratitude.
HOW LONG ARE WE GOING TO SILENTLY ACCEPT BEING TREATED LIKE FISH? WE NEED TO SEND A CLEAR SIGNAL TO THE WORLD ABOUT OUR STATUS: WE ARE MAMMALS, HOMO SAPIENS SAPIENS TO BE PRECISE.
Since Internet came to town, I mean to the planet, the ill treatment of humans have grown at a frightening rate. Yes, of humans. You and me and our friends.
Of course we were ill-treated in many ways before the Internet. But back then ill-treatment was specific and individual. Minorities might protest, but I am talking about something that goes far beyond paltry groups of a few million people. This concerns humanity at large.
Bear in mind that I speak not about simple bodily pain but about the human spirit. This hurt goes much deeper than skin deep. I refer to the general treatment of humans as FISH.
The whole thing started before Internet but Internet has taken to whole thing to news lows.
Let´s look at popular music. Pop music that is catchy…. Whoa, stop right there! CATCH! It gets fishy right there.
Popular music, especially the kind that comes from hit-factories´ conveyor belts, wants to catch the listener. It is not enough to interest, inspire, touch or move. No, the listener needs to be caught and there should be no route of escape. We want him in our clutches; finger snapping, foot thumping, head throwing. Like one possessed by a voodoo Loa.
If “catch” is not graphic enough, what about the word “hook”?
This is a hook, and don´t you dare to get off it, you school of fish.
Feeling like a cold-blooded aquatic vertebrate yet? I do. But it gets worse and even more fishy.
FISHING FOR HITS
“Hit” means to deliver a blow. This we often forget. A hit is not a stroke or a hug: it is something aggressive. This use of language is now common Internet parlance, where the number of visitors to a web page are called “hits”.
But one hit is no hit. We need a string of them. We need to multiply the hits so that our web page is easily found.
(Does nobody want to hide nowadays…? Doesn´t seem so.)
You are seen = you exist. So we apply techniques of SEO (search engine optimization) to get more hits. Our refrain: Hit me with your SEO. Hit me, hit me, hit me!
To remind us of the word´s original meaning, here´s a hit by Muhammed Ali. He was a real hit-maker.
And yes, “hook” means “punch” in boxing. It all comes together.
THE BAIT COMETH
But the fishiness is not over yet. We also have link bait to consider.
The definition: “content designed to attract attention and encourage those viewing it to create hyperlinks to the site, with the aim of improving the site’s position on the list of results returned by a search engine.”
There we go fishing again, being fished again. And not by Jesus but by commercial forces. The phrase “Click here” might sound innocent, but it is just a formulation of what we are supposed to do: Bite at the hook, swallow the bait.
This is not really new of course. Yellow journalism was all about eye-catching (sic) headlines. Your eyes almost fell out when reading them.
But then yellow was just a color. Bait is uncomfortably clear language.
This made me tired… After all this depressing stuff, let´s clear the air with a hit of a more benign kind.
SOMETIMES IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO KNOW WHETHER A PERSON IS 5 OR 50 YEARS OLD. AT LEAST THAT IS A PROBLEM I HAVE WITH POLITICIANS AND OTHER PUBLIC FIGURES.
Certain statements baffle, even disturb, me. They come from grown up people, often politicians (well, that might be a contradiction in terms, so let´s say big boys in trousers or skirts), but they sound like they came from the mouth of a five year old.
Daddy! Doggy MUST stop barking now!
Mommy! MOMMY! The rain has to stop falling, I am wet….!!
There is nothing strange about such exclamations coming from small children. In their childish absurdity they are even cute. But when this Stop This-litany comes from grownups I am baffled.
Stop? What? How…?
Yes, there are ways of stopping a dog from barking, and supposedly ways to stop even rain. But these grownups are not talking about barking or rain. No, they want to stop BIG THINGS.
Violence. War. Hatred.
It is not even correct to say that they WANT to stop these manifestations. No, they are somehow ordering them to stop.
Now, if this was 100 % honest, I wouldn´t say anything. On the contrary, it would be almost charming to hear middle-aged men and women in power talk like angry, affronted children. I am sure it would endear them to many voters.
But of course I don´t believe that they are ordering violence and hatred to stop. It´s just one of the things politicians say, one of their many word games.
By saying these things they are also avoiding responsibility. Everybody can say that something has to stop, but where are they themselves in the picture? What I want to hear is THIS phrase.
It is my responsibility to make this crisis/ problem /etc. stop.
Hats off to that!
But politicians like to play the games of Promises and Sugared Words. And we others like sugar.
Another word game is feigning surprise at the ways of the world.
Excuse me, but if there is a group of people who understand, who far to well understand the ways of the world, it is politicians. So how come they find so many events and incidents “incomprehensible”?
That´s what they are saying anyway. The word incomprehensible and its equivalents are popping up all the time in political speeches, especially when violence and many casualties are involved.
I don´t get it. It´s almost incomprehensible to me how politicians, of all people, do not notice that we live in a violent world where people murder, and are murdered.
Of course they know and notice this. The might even have blood on their own hands, but their Political (Word) Game seems to demand that they feign surprise.
Interestingly (and strangely) by acting and speaking like dumbfounded children, they seem to get more sympathy from us. It seems that NOT understanding certain things in this world is interpreted as empathy and emotional intelligence.
WHEN IT COMES TO THE QUESTION OF RECOGNIZING GENIUS MOST OF US ARE LOOKING IN THE WRONG QUARTERS. IF WE ARE LOOKING AT ALL, WHICH WE SHOULD.
Can you name three geniuses, quick!?
— Well, there´s Einstein and… hm, Einstein was a genius.
Okay. How do you know Einstein was a genius?
— Er, what kind of a question is that…? Everybody knows Einstein was a genius.
But how does Everybody know that Einstein was a genius?
— You are starting to irritate me. Are you illiterate or something?
I am just trying to find out how we all (!) know that Einstein was a genius. Or rather, what does “know” means in this context? Do we know it, or have we just heard it and believed it?
— Well, I have it on good authority…
Which authority? Wikipedia?
— Now you are really starting to be a pain in the neck!
We´d better stop this conversation before it turns into a fight.
My point is that if knowing is to mean more than “hearing and believing” then we might have to question what we know about geniuses. (Perhaps nothing at all…)
It is easy and predictable to say “it takes one to know one”, but there might be several grains of truth there. To know one means recognizing one, preferably by yourself. Not through a Facebook article, or because he has been pointed out to you by some smart, well-educated friend.
Maybe we should just forget about Einstein.
I don´t KNOW that he was a genius. I know that many people consider him one, but I don´t know why. (Everybody who understands the theory of relativity raise a hand.) It might have to do with hearsay.
So let´s put Einstein aside and think of people we actually know, our inner and outer circle. Does somebody there qualify? They might. Their hair might look nothing like Einstein´s and their expertise might lie far from theoretical physics, but they could still be a genius, waiting to be discovered. Perhaps by you.
As you see I am advocating DIY genius recognition. It is much better than acceptance of hearsay. Besides, the joy of discovery and the realization that your old school buddy is actually some kind of weird genius beats reading articles about the subject in Psychology Today. You might even want to start a new Facebook category: Family, Close Friends, Geniuses.
And remember not to exclude yourself from the genius hunt. Finding a genius in your own home, your own jungle, your own skin, can be a wonderful, bittersweet experience. A find worthy of a Henry Stanley.
— Okay, you half convinced me. But I still don´t get WHY it is so important to recognize genius.
Let me ask you: Why would you want to recognize a piece of gold lying in the street? Why distinguish great from meager music, sublime from cheap wine, transcendental from trashy poetry, a genuinely honestpolitician from sneaky, media trained opportunists?
Awareness is its own reward. If you stumble about in a dark room you don´t ask about the virtue of light. You turn it on.
PS: You can with good reason ask me which geniuses I have discovered. Here´s a book by one of them.
WHERE DO WE GO WITH OUR QUESTIONS? NOWADAYS MOST OFTEN TO DADDY GOOGLE (SUPPOSEDLY OUR FRIEND). HERE IS WHY I AM ABANDONING DADDY LONGEARS FOR SOMETHING MUCH BETTER…
— I admit it, that was an attention getting headline, almost a bait. But my exaggeration, if exaggeration it be, is based on long discontentment with The World According to Google.
Where shall we begin? Let´s first look at the strange and utterly boring phenomenon of Google referral, we can shorten that to GORE.
When I in olden times — 20-30 years ago — asked my friends about something they knew or might know better than me, there were many possible answers.
I have no idea…
You see, it is like this… [the answer]
Don´t really know, but let´s put our intelligent heads together and we might find out
Have you looked in Encyclopedia Britannica?
There were other possibilities but these were the main ones. Once upon a time it was interesting, sometimes even exiting to ask people questions. And yes, I admit to being perhaps over-questioning; sometimes I take the lazy road of asking, instead of finding out myself. However, at times I do this intentionally just to see what kind of answer forthcomes from a certain person.
Well, those were the old, adventurous times. And I am not joking. If we really think back on life some 40 years ago asking questions was really something different from today. We had variety and diversity back then.
Those exiting times are now over. Now we have — Google.
If I ask a friend something, there is a 87.6 % probability that he will answer: Ask Google. (As if asking and searching were the same thing.) Just as boring and predictable is the variant “Try Internet” — which really is just another way of saying “ask Google”.
The other 12.4 % can still be an adventure, but clearly adventure shrinks and the GORE just grows.
This tendency has been made into an art form by some wise guys. (Beg pardon for using the words “art” and “wise” in this context.) The website Let me Google that for you has the following presentation:
For all those people who find it more convenient to bother you with their question rather than google it for themselves.
I suppose this is milder way of saying. “F*ck of, questioner. What makes you think that I want to help you, that I am interested in anybody´s questions??”
The phrase “Let me Google that for you” sounds almost innocent, as if the person was actually prepared to help you and be nice to you — perhaps push your wheelchair up a hill — and not just arrogantly pointing out the idiocy of asking him, not Google.
But… on second thought it maybe WAS idiocy to ask him. Because he sees me, the asker, as an idiot.
Check it out for yourself HERE. At the very bottom of the page it says in fine print “If you still have any questions — read this”. Click on “this” and find out WHAT YOU ARE. (Be sure to have sound turned on.)
So here we are, with Google for idiots.
I would venture, coming dangerously close to arrogance myself, that this is Google BY idiots. I mean, if it is idiocy to direct your questions to someone else than Daddy Longears, then intelligence cannot be worth much. This picture sums up part of the confusion.
Well, young man, now you know at least why yours truly don´t just Google it.
As I see it there´s an unsympathetic arrogance surrounding Google use and a strange, aseptic recoiling in the presence of human contact. I am not surprised when young nerdy hackers say “let me google that for you”. However, when a grown up friend with clearly established expertise answers a question of mine about his field with “Try Internet”, I start muttering “damned rejuvenation!”.
There are other reasons for not liking Google as a source of information, even for not liking Google, period.
Sure, one could liken the answer “Ask Google” to “Ask Encyclopedia Britannica”. But E.B., I now mean the paper version (remember, I am talking about 30-40 years back), did not gather information on (euphemism for “spy on”) you, did not have a virtual monopoly on information and certainly did not cruise your streets taking photographs of your house and garden.
But let´s not go there, let´s go to Quora. Let´s swap algorithms for people!
Quora´s slogan is “The best answer to my question.” Well, that´s a slogan, thus exaggerated. You don´t always find an answer, or the best answer, on Quora. But you find something else, namely people with a friendly, antediluvian (i.e. pre-Google) attitude towards questions and questioning.
I am sure Quora also has a business model. I don´t know much about it and frankly don´t much care. I am not saying that they are idealistic saints — but they sure look like it beside Google.
So here´s my story: Since I joined Quora the whole tiring, arrogant Google thing (here´s another example) has vanished in thin air. When I stumble upon a problem, or need interesting, insightful input, or have come to a halt in my writings, I go to Quora. Which in practice means going to individuals who are interested in helping, sharing (for free) what they know, formulating themselves (a part of the wisdom process).
This looks like a real win-win situation to me.
I get very useful, practical and valuable information, answers and feedback. Those who answer me personally (something Google never does) get to formulate their knowledge / expertise/ wisdom. They get applause, appreciation and commendation for their efforts, and (at least indirectly) can themselves learn more in the process.
In short, a good time is had by all, which is not a small thing these days on the Internet.
PS: I am sure you know the address to Google. Here´s Quora.
Headwind is a newsletter/online magazine against the grain.
It presents provocative (to others, not YOU of course .-) and profitable* articles about phenomena that are — in the unorthodoxly educated opinion of yours truly — questionable, sophistical, vulgar and plain dangerous to our world.
* profitable = advantegous, helpful, valuable (if you value viewpoints outside the box)
Think of Headwind as the friendly but emphatic bark of a watchdog.
No — I will not fall into the well of Ranting, sniffing out errors, being a heat-seeking shit-detector automaton, making things out to be worse than they are.
Yes — I find many things in life beautiful, charming and touching (not the least as a sometime photographer). The glass is surely more than half full.
However, my work instincts guide me to what can be improved. The headwind blows especially towards imperfections that are Photoshopped by PR people who, adroit at finding the attractive euphemism, the reassuring half-lie, the forgiving circumlocution, are selling us worthless tinsel and lead us up the garden path to hell. (Remember, PR is also a shortening forper rectum.)
Imperfection is one thing. We are all imperfect; some of us are even lying in the gutter. But intentionally deceitful beautification tries to stop us from looking at the stars.