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How to use the internet without being a total loser

I’ve been off Twitter for the last few days – to be more accurate, I’ve been on it a lot less than before. Part of it is just taking advantage of the modicum of digital detox that the recent holiday provided but mainly I’ve become disillusioned with Twitter’s response to the abusive and grossly threatening tweets being sent to women who dare to pop their head over the parapet.

Let’s be clear: I still think Twitter amplifies stupidity rather than creates it, and while I find it very hard to get inside the mentality of a keyboard warrior who thinks it’s acceptable to threaten someone with rape, I’m not naive enough to think it’s never going to happen.

My main beef is Twitter – the company and one of its employees in particular – and its pathetic and incredibly slow response. It just reeks badly of risk-managed corporate bullshit behaviour designed to protect the company’s interests over those of its users, notwithstanding that in the long run, any idiot knows those interests should be the same.

The initial shit storm blew up last Friday and it wasn’t until Monday that Twitter UK responded. Now, the delay may have been down to people not working over the weekend. If so, shame on them for not recognising the importance of a timely response. More likely, I expect the delay was down to a massive amount of internal reviews by management and lawyers to squeeze any ounce of humanity out of the statement to ensure as little commitment as possible could be made while at the same time appearing to give a shit.

I don’t expect miracles to happen right away but it would have been great if a human statement could have been made along the lines of “Tweets that threaten rape are simply unacceptable and we will do everything we can to work with the police to help bring the people who sent the abusive tweets to account. We’ll also make it our highest priority to look at how we can this kind of situation arising again.”

So at the moment, I’m out of love with Twitter because I just find how they’ve handled the situation with Caroline Criado-Perez, to pinch the understatement from Yvette Cooper, ‘inadequate’. I realise I’m connected to some really great people on Twitter, and it’s not like I’ve been trolled too much myself, so I haven’t flounced off (yet), but Twitter’s a really tarnished brand for me right now and, given that part of me is looking for excuses to disconnect, I’m teetering on the brink.

If I stick around, it’ll be mainly because of the positive side of Twitter but, to be honest, partly because it’s part of my job to be up to speed with Twitter and the ilk. So I guess that would make me a whore. C’est la vie, c’est la capitalisme.

Anyway, to put a slightly more positive spin on this, have a read of Hadley Freeman in the Guardian, writing on ‘How to use the internet without being a total loser.

Despite the internet being several decades old (its exact age depends where you look it up on, funnily enough, the internet), some people still don’t know how to use it without being a total loser … [s]o let’s have a quick lesson in how not to be a dick on the internet.

And it may be worth checking out Happier, a, well, happier social network.

The world will rejoice when you’re losing your voice…

Charlie Brooker witing in The Guardian on “why I’m reducing my word emissions”:

Everybody talking at once and all over each other; everyone on the planet typing words into their computers, for ever, like I’m doing now. I fail to see the point of roughly 98% of human communication at the moment, which indicates I need to stroll around somewhere quiet for a bit.

This is a bit of an odd thing to agree with, when I’m not even halfway through my self-imposed ‘blog a day’ resolution, but he’s right. We’re as close as we’ve ever been to the infinite number of monkeys tapping away at an infinite number of typewriters and yet it feels like we’ve never been further from getting the complete works of Shakespeare.

Twitter and Facebook are about connections rather than real communication. They’re not trying to promote eloquence – however much the 140 character limit of Twitter is spun as a constraint that promotes creativity; they’re more about volume. Sure, social media experts will look at how widely a tweet or status update is shared, as some sort of measure of quality but let’s face it, it’s a numbers game and the bigger the number, the better. Quality’s too hard to measure so companies measure ‘engagement’  and ‘influence’ via the proxy of number of comments, retweets, favourites, likes and shares. This pursuit of volume suits the corporations who run Facebook and Twitter, of course, so they’re not going to care how those numbers are achieved.

So well done Charlie Brooker for taking himself out of the game. It means a hell of a lot that someone like him, who is actually paid to communicate, is choosing to limit his output.

Post title lyrics taken from Sultans of Ping F.C. – You Talk Too Much

(Not Heston’s) ice cream cranachan sundae

Cranachan ice cream sundae


Waitrose are pimping Heston’s salted caramel popcorn ice cream at the moment and they’ve got a recipe card out at the moment for Heston’s ice cream cranachan sundae. P picked up the recipe card, having heard me rave about the Crown cranachan I had a couple of months ago and A, not missing a trick, immediately asked if we could make the cranachan sundae upon clocking the recipe card.

Well, I love cooking with A – even if I find it a little stressful, given my control-freakery in the kitchen – so how could I refuse? Alas, the salted caramel popcorn ice cream was sold out at Waitrose but we substituted it with some toffee honeycomb ice cream. It’s actually a fairly simple dish – there’s just quite a few component parts that need to be prepared in advance – and it went down very well for a Sunday dinner dessert. I could do with leaving out the chocolate custard element but I can see it being an indulgent dinner party dessert.

The doctor say he’s comin’ but you gotta pay in cash

All-inclusive holidays are great – you don’t have to worry about carrying money around for food and drinks or accidentally racking up a massive bill to pay off at the end of the holiday – but for a glutton like me, it’s pretty hard on the waistline. There’s two factors at play, at least for me:

  1. Determination to get value for money – after all, I’ve essentially paid in advance for all the food and drink so I need to eat and drink shedloads in order to ‘break even’.
  2. Inability to restrict what I put on my plate or to leave the food on the plate when I’m full.

Anyway, I’m by no means enormous but I am overweight and increasingly conscious of mortality (it’s that impending mid-life crisis). I do myself a slight disservice in that I think I restrained myself somewhat compared to previous years at the breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets, and I did make a conscious effort to pile more vegetables onto the plate ((although if we were back at  Sharm El Sheikh I would have stuck to the deep-fried beige stuff because at least there was more chance of any Sharm El Shits-causing bugs having been cooked off)). I still ate too much though and on the fifth morning of the holiday I announced to P that I was going to give the Fast Diet a go.

I’ve never been on a diet before but this one seems manageable – mainly because, to simplify horrendously – it’s saying ‘diet for two days a week and go nuts on the other five days if you want to’. Given that I can sometimes accidentally go through most of the day without eating, formalising that and doing it on a regular basis as part of weight-loss regime feels achievable. What also clinched it was that apparently it’s ok to keep exercising on the fasting days although with careful management I could just avoid fasting on the days I want to run or play football.

Why am I telling you this? Well, apart from getting at least one blog post out of this, the book says I should tell everyone I’m doing it to kind of apply peer pressure on myself.

I’m not starting just yet as I want to get some blood tests done at the GP to establish a baseline against which to measure progress but like a stereotypical geek, I’ve set up a spreadsheet to track my progress. I’ll also give updates as and when seems appropriate (and, let’s face it, when I can’t think of anything else to blog about).

Post title lyric taken from The Eagles – Life in the Fast Lane