I’m Thinking of Un-Friending Everyone

We get up in arms — offended almost — at the suggestion of Our Internet being taken away from us. We view corporatization or privitization, tiered or restricted content as an affront to our civil liberties. We must maintain network neutrality. The www is merely a vessel, like a library, something that holds information we might seek or need. Which items you choose to view is completely at your discretion.

So why, then, do we allow Facebook to slap a crazy bias our online experience with such welcoming and open arms? Facebook has essentially taken the back door: now that we’re at the party, FB has come in and made that party a little less free and amorphous. The party is now rigidly structured. Compartmentalized. There’s nothing neutral about it: FB offeres a thinly veiled sense of freedom, but really, we have simply and unwittingly been initiated into a private club.

The FB format tugs on our very heartstrings, having lured us in emotionally, then entrapping us under a pretence of socialization, popularity and approval. If a child’s birthday party needs to be a Facebook event, or an intriguing idea condemned to a one-Like-click then hasn’t it been done already? Haven’t we all, as members of FB, been played?

I imagine stinking rich millionaires, smoking cigars, wearing tailored three-piece suits on their yachts (or whatever the stinking rich stereotypes would do), chuckling with admiration at the level of Evil Genius Mark Zuckerberg has attained: how he made it through the gates, into our hearts, and now we believe in him. Implicitly. Now he preaches to the converted, and we follow. Unquestioning of the fine print. Who has time to sift through repeated updates to the myriad terms of service agreements we face daily?

If the phone rang this moment, and on the other end was a nice lady asking if you had a few minutes to answer some questions you would say: “No,” and press End before either of you had a chance to say good bye. What we don’t realise is that Facebook passively does this: collects personal data. Every move you make, word you say, link you click through, funny picture of a cat, zombie or cat-zombie you approve of: that information is collected. Every friend you have comprises a matrix of data that is being used to “connect” you with products. Or future products. Now we gleefully volunteer the information, we volunteer our level of education, where we live, how old we are, if we are married or single, if we have kids or pets, what books we read, TV shows we watch, games we play: statistical data we can’t find the time to enter in to our own government’s Census forms (I bet you just threw that shit into the garbage anyway).

The level of marketing at the foundation of this operation is multi-tiered and brilliant. Admit it: you guys lapped that “The Social Network” drivel up. Another success: Evil Genius/CEO/guy that JUST WANTS TO BUY HIS OWN FUCKING YACHT has been humanized. But you know what they say: “It takes money to make money.” And I am saddened on a daily basis by how true this is, especially in the Western World, and more heartbreakingly, how it increasingly applies to modern culture (another rant, another time).

“Success” is not about doing your best, it’s about being invested in.

Just remember: you don’t need an online life. It’s just something someone gave us for nothing. Oh, and what’s that other adage? “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

Fundamentally, what I’m getting at is that I encourage you to be a good person. Don’t be evil. Don’t be a dick. It is so vitally important that you live your life in the moment, because let me tell you, the grass doesn’t get any greener on the other side.

Spending Tuesday With the Internet

After a couple weeks of breakneck number crunching and paper pushing, I found myself with some spare time this Tuesday morning. My work, hardly done, but at a standstill…meaning I can’t move forward on anything until I hear back from some others. So I effed around on the internet for a while, reading the news and, invariably, being led astray. Here’s what I found:

1. ChatRoulette. Wow. It basically randomizes a video chat link from a list of thousands of users online. Sometimes I am truly grateful that my computer pre-dates built in cameras. This article in New York Magazine basically sums up the experience. All together now: WTF.

2. This spawned a short Facebook conversation with my mom about how “fornicating with a lettuce” is the apex of our culture.

3. Next I was transfixed by this article, reporting that the Right Wing Start to see IRS Suicide Bomber as a Hero. And I thought: “Only the far right?” Really? America, you are so weird sometimes (no offence to Americans). He’s protesting the only way that makes the media and the gov listen: extremism. Think about it. Interesting how the media reacted, too: as soon as it was known to be American-on-American, non-religiously motivated terrorism, we just stopped hearing about it. In swooped Tiger Woods’ apology, anyway.

4. Suddenly, I realised: “What you thinking for?” and created a URL that takes you to thedears.org: http://5z8.info/refugee-murder_n0r8s_REFINANCE-NOW. This made me laugh. Thanks ShadyURL and Rob Benvie!

5. What next? Somebody get me a bullet proof vest! Only $400. Cheap.

6. It just went downhill from there: Colonel and Ellen Tigh totally looks like John and Cindy McCain. Wrong, because Colonel Tigh totally looks like Mr. Lahey.

7. And then I saw this seagull steal chips from a store, and realised: “This is enough internettage to share with my friends!”

I am stepping away from the computer for a while, knowing that this was all a learning experience.

Past/Present/Future

As we press forward, always on and toward the future, looking to what is ahead and unknown to solve today’s puzzles, we often forget to remember the past and things that were before; things that might not be searchable via Google. I was reminded of this idea twice this week: how the internet has spawned into an ultimate, multi-faceted reference source that has essentially triggered the foreclosure of the print publishing industry.

The first was a post from a blog called Victorian Horror that talks about our new album. The author, Victoria, says: “Aww, the Dears. I stumbled upon them about four years ago when I first moved to Chicago. I was on one of my CD buying sprees where I trusted the blurb at the record store, or just bought it unheard based on the 4-star “Q Magazine” rating on the sticker. Those were the days, when discovering new music came with a risk….the prospect that you may have just laid down $16.00 for a crap album! This was before I had bought my computer of course…a more innocent time!

And the second: One Man’s Quest to Digitize and Publicize Rare Records, 78 by 78, tells the story of recordings on their way to being “lost” forever: record labels that don’t exist potentially may not care to digitize old masters. Masters that tell of a culture that once existed, proliferated, and dictated in certain ways how we think, interact and appreciate music today.

The past inhibiting the future and the future inhibiting the past. Which do we preserve? Which informs our lives in a more meaningful – though minute – way?

Wikipedia: Success!

Perennially frustrated with The Dears’ wiki, I decided to get serious. I found better photos from a friend who came on tour with us (thank you, Clément). I figured out (kind of) the GFDL. And I even emailed the Overlords of Wiki to make sure the photos were OK to use. And they wrote back only a few hours later, which surprised me most of all. People actually work for Wikipedia…it musn’t be the free-for-all I took it for.

I was inspired by a friend, only know as “Guay to Guay” who was over, stealing our wifi on his iPhone, and started razzing on me because our wiki wasn’t “up to date.” I was like: “I know. I KNOW!” and got frustrated, realising that I could not let the Rules of Wiki defeat me.

I’ve let a few days pass and…yup…everything is still there. I fleshed out the entry a little bit, and added references to make us look real legit. All in all, it felt really good to close out my battle with Wikipedia. I feel like I kept the integrity and original spirit of the entry, and I fully expect it to morph into another beast as time passes.

Maintenance

Lately I’ve been obsessed with how the internet is defining The Dears. I’ve been assessing some of our online profiles: you know, MySpace, Facebook, CBC Radio 3, Wikipedia. I like things to be up to date, correct and complete. I’ve been updating photos and bios, but have hit the following frustrations:

1. Facebook: I absolutely refuse to be on Facebook. I don’t need people to “find me,” or to “find people.” People “find me” all the time without Facebook. So I don’t know a lot about how Facebook works. It seems I am in constant battle with Facebook, but refuse to conform. I recently tried to create an official “business” page for The Dears, but I still can’t really do anything without a personal profile, so I gave up. The Dears have a fan-run Facebook page which is actually pretty complete so perhaps I should let go. Actually, this is me saying that I already have let go.

2. Wikipedia: You really have to be a bit of a smarty pants to make changes on Wikipedia. I’ve been trying to upload some missing album covers for our CDs, and – wow, guy – it’s like trying to get a work visa. So strict and complicated, but I guess that’s the only way they can remain an authority instead of being a free-for-all. Anyhow, we’ll see if I did it right if the album covers are still there in a week. I also found out that I can’t update The Dears’ wiki entry myself, unless I’m adding something of certain, undefined value to the entry. What kind of is frustrating about our current wiki is the strange photo of us playing in Leicster some three years ago. I just don’t feel it’s very representational of who we are today. And then, the fact that the whole entry is so obsessed with other bands instead of biographical info about us. It’s just: Keane, Keane, Keane, Morrissey, Morrissey, Blur, Jethro Tull (?). I mean, Keane are an OK band, but don’t really have much to do with who The Dears are. Why is an opening slot suddenly so much more important than our real accomplishments? Being defined by other bands is pigeonholing and that’s never really worked for The Dears. I spent an hour making edits, adding references and properly notating an “awards and nominations” section which the Overlords of Wiki deleted. I just tried adding it again; if they delete it again then I give up on it completely.

Instead of bitching about it, maybe I should be asking this: Dear readers, could you make our wiki entry more relevant and pretty? If you need to fact check, you can ask me, or don’t, just don’t make anything up. Oddly, I think you will have an easier time editing it than I’ve had.

Finally, back to my topic of maintenance. More locally I’ve removed the Wired RSS because nobody looked at it anyway, and replaced it with a music player. Initially I’ve just put Dears tracks there but I hope to create some playlists of music that I like. I was inspired by reader hack’s suggestion to listen to a particular track. So more updates, always, forthcoming.