25.Sep – { On the Wall: Views from a Social Media Gadfly } with Gabriel Owens: “Watch Dogs”


It’s Getting to Where YouCan’t Find a Good Place to Be A Douchebag Anymore

The racists are being shamed.

The sexists are getting called on their bullcrap.

The ignorant are deleting their twitter accounts when their stupid malarkey goes viral.

For all the despair we feel in seeing our society’s worst being put on display in social media, there’s a flip side.  Those expressing hate, fear, sexism, and patriarch apologeticism are being shamed.

In a past column I talked about how people should maybe separate their particulars online when it comes to social media.  I mentioned some don’t, as they for whatever reason feel their twitter/fb feed what not is only going to their little circle of buds.

That same circle of friends you *think* all laugh at your racist comments.  Some are, probably.  Some are probably rolling their eyes at you internally, but they ain’t saying anything to your face.  But you embarrass them, and you don’t even know it.

They aren’t even saying it to you online when you tweet/post it.  But what they ARE doing is screenshotting it and putting it elsewhere on the net for the world to see how ignorant you are.

Someone collected a bunch of tweets after an Indian-American woman won Miss America that were incredibly racist, ignorant of her actual race, etc.  I checked those accounts, because they didn’t censor where they came from.

80 percent had been deleted.  And they weren’t sock puppet/dummy accounts.  Those were regular twitter accounts that those people had been using for a while.

They got shamed off the internet.

You go internet watchdogs.  Sometimes, our self-policing is the strongest force against stupidity.




19.Sep – { On the Wall: Views from a Social Media Gadfly } with Gabriel Owens – “You Ain’t ‘Bout That Life”



You Ain’t ‘Bout That Life:  Segmenting Your Online Imprint

So it finally happened…I had a blow up with a family member about her posting to my Facebook.  Due to my social media gadfly ways, I have no particular separation of my various friends, family and interests on FB, hell, its often fascinating watching them intersect.  But, yeah.  One of my family members had gotten into a habit of poo-poo’ing on a lot of my posts, giving out her “wisdom” unsolicited, commenting on things that she really should just scroll past.

One finally set me off, and after a heated exchange on messenger, I told her if she can’t respect my FB wall when I ask her to, she can leave.  Well, I guess she felt she couldn’t, cause she unfriended me.  Her husband did too.

That’s all fine (tho Thanksgiving’s gonna be awkward).  I realize a lot of people keep their various online activities separated for this reason.  Your weirder interests and what not may stay strictly on Tumblr or something.  Facebook being such an intersect of friends new and old, along with family, you soon realize you don’t want some of these people knowing about that part of your life.

It’s also interesting watching those that don’t particularly care.  I think I’ve learned a lot more about the views of people I’ve been friends with over the years that I never knew from interacting with them in real life.  They let it all hang out on FB.  The amount of fundies, lefties, tin foil hat conspiracists that I knew occasionally astounds me.  What drives people to post stuff to their timeline that they never bring up in real life?  Is it that disconnect of not having to discuss it face to face with someone that might disagree with you?  Is it just ignorance to how the internet works?

As always, I’ll keep watching and observing.  Will the paradigm either shift to where most will keep their less than general stuff off their “main” social media channel, or everyone will start intersecting their entire lives, not caring?  Or will something new emerge?

Fascinating stuff to observe.

12.Sep – { On the Wall: Views From a Social Media Gadfly } with Gabriel Owens: The Language of the Internet


The Language of the Internet

As we boldly step forward into the post-web world, old paradigms become new again, and humanity repeats itself in digital form.

For instance, we all know if you take a base language, give it to a group of people and seclude them to their own community, that language will change and be adapted to that group’s shared experiences, needs and environment.  Hence why different dialects, accents and what have you exist even within a small land region.  One only has to look at the Philippines’ 100 or so dialects to see how that much diversity of language we can have.

The internet merely took that to the virtual world.  Everywhere you go on the net, you see little communities that talk in their own code and syntax, have their own foibles of the written word, and, distressing to me, begin to write alike.

I think I really noticed it on Tumblr.  I SWEAR I read something by someone that I’ve must have read dozens of times; nope, different people.  But they are all people who developed the “Tumblr style” of getting their ideas across (they like billet points, randomly bolding and italicizing).  Not just in the aforementioned cosmetic sense; the turns of phrase, word flow, and word choices all seem eerily similar.

I can’t say I like it.  It’s certainly not an intentional thing.  All writers crib from their various influences when they write.  But most develop their own style OUT of that mish-mash hodge-podge.

What I see is everyone not evolving, staying within that framework of where they’re writing.  In an age where everything and anything is there, you would think the styles would be diverse and magical.  Some are, but a lot are stale and wholly reflective of their media origination.

Maybe it’s a growing pain phase of the net.  Maybe we’re going in reverse.  Can’t say for sure yet.

I’ll keep my eyes open tho.



5.Sep – { On the Wall: Views From a Social Media Gadfly } with Gabriel Owens: “Murder Culture”


Murder Culture:  The Blasé Internet and Double Standard of Horrific Crimes

(Trigger warnings folks:  Real talk in here about terrible stuff like rape and murder)

Recently, Twitter and Tumblr have been all abuzz in the nerd sector over comments made by Mike Krahulik, artist and co-creator of the internet’s most popular web comic, Penny Arcade.  PA usually writes about video games and related culture, with occasional jaunts in other directions.  It’s always been frank and taboo-breaking; not in a “ha ha look how edgy we are” way, they’re just trying to make people laugh. And being inappropriate with societal taboos is a long-standing tradition of comedians etc.

To the point, they made a comic a few years ago with a throwaway line about a character in a demon-hell like world (I believe it was a Skyrim strip) complaining to the hero that they are “raped by dickwolves” nightly.  It brought them heat, Mike’s first response was defensive:  F*** you, I’m gonna make t-shirts that say “Raped By Dickwolves” and wear it to our convention (they put on one of the biggest video game conventions in the world).

Cooler heads prevailed, and he backed off the idea and somewhat apologized.  This year at PAX, he stated at a panel that he regretted not going through with it, which brought cheers from the audience and the outrage of the social media overreaction squad.

I’m not against a dialogue about how we use the crime of rape in our creative works.  Some claim for the sake of comedy, nothing should be off the table.  We should constantly seek the line and cross it for the sake of not stifling thought and creating dialogue.  Others believe the  use of rape as a punch line, even a throwaway one, is not only insensitive to those that have survived this terrible crime, but perpetuates a “rape culture” mentality that leads to so many women (and so many unreported men) getting violated.

You know what’s another horrific crime?  Murder.  Arguable the only one worse than rape.  And there’s no dialogue anywhere about how we’re perpetuating a murder culture.

No one is talking about how using horrific murder as plot device or a punch line is insensitive to the family and friends of murder victims.  No one is talking about how it perpetuates a society that is so blasé to the idea of the killing of another human being we become completely immune to the idea of it.

We hear about killing in wars, crimes, and wholesale genocide around the world.  At best, when you get up to the word “genocide” you may get a “dang, that’s terrible.”  Otherwise, with a few exceptions (the murder of a child will trigger an emotional response for instance); it’s just a part of life.   It’s so invasive to our culture that it pervades our daily language.

“My roommate left the milk out again!  I’m gonna kill him!”

That wouldn’t even make you bat an eye if your friend said that.

“My roommate left the milk out again!  I’m gonna rape him!”

Now, you’ve got someone’s attention.  Even in the context of ridiculous hyperbole, the word rape creates a visceral reaction in you.  If we say nothing else about the terrible idea of a “rape culture” in this country, at least that crime can provoke an emotional response from you.  As it should.

So yes, let’s dialogue.  But let’s expand the dialogue.  There’s some talk about how homosexual rape is used as punch line (especially in the context of prison), and is usually dismissed, and written off mostly as a deflection.  No, we need to talk about that too.  It should all be on the table, not just the one we have an immediate, emotional response to.  We should explore why we allow ourselves to treat ALL these with less importance than they deserve.

So call out those that are treating rape and sexual assault as a comedic device.  Also call out your friend who casually mentions how he wants to strangle his boss and bury the body in a swamp.   Call out the next oh-so-original Facebook poster laughing about how some criminal on his way to the big house is gonna meet his roommate Bubba (damn, that dude gets around) for some “quality time” after lights out.

Let’s talk.





3.Sep – { On the Wall: Views From a Social Media Gadfly } with Gabriel Owens – “A Warning”


Your Facebook Account and Twitter Feed are not Your Personal TV Diary:  A Warning

Random Facebook DGAFer*:  OMG I can’t believe Walt just shot Walt Jr. in the face!

Comment:  DUDE!  Spoilers!

The world of fast, up-to-the-second connection with everyone via the Internet and especially social media has led to a shifting paradigm in how we watch TV and movies.  Before the last decade, while there were message boards and such, most people were still in the mode of “water cooler talk” from the previous generation from the 80s and back.  You watched a movie or a TV show, you found someone at work that’d seen it and discuss it in the break room.  If it was a TV show, especially the days before DVRs, streaming content and such, anyone who’d missed it was just left out; you had to listen to how awesome it was to see the reveal of Who Shot JR or the finale of M*A*S*H*.*

If it was a movie, maybe you closed your ears and ran out screaming “la la la I can’t HEAR you…” or asked them not spoil it for you.

But the actual term “spoilers” coined from the above “spoil” was an invention of the early internet.  Message boards and UseNet dedicated to certain movies or shows etc would institute their own policing so people wouldn’t just blurt out some cool thing that happened in a new movie or kept foreigners where the show hadn’t aired yet unspoiled and still able to visit and discuss other topics.

Early Internet adopters were very good at this; it was part of the culture (minus a few trolls or newbies).  Then along came Web 2.0, the colloquial name for the Internet age of social media.

While the web was growing in the 90s and early 00s, it exploded in the age of Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Now people who had barely ever used the internet for anything but checking stocks and surfing porn were now communicating with each other about everything and anything.  The problem was…these people did not have that ingrained habit of spoiler protection.  They were still of the mindset of the water cooler days.  Movies, books are a bit different; most people do seem to realize not everyone is reading/watching at the same time.  But with TV, they still assume everyone is watching live with them.  This coupled with the social media driven need to post your thoughts and emotions right then in real time.  People who watch later via Hulu or TiVo have learned to try to avoid any and all internet if they want to remain unspoiled.

This is not right, folks.  Netiquette needs to be ingrained in the unwashed masses of late adopters of this World Wide Web.  It’s not 1988 anymore; probably half the world watches their shows at their convenience.   You may just be thinking of your two or three bestest buds you know are watching with you and are posting to them; your social media account more than likely reaches a much broader target than what you’re imagining at that moment.

I propose mandatory Spoiler Training for all users of the social media spread.  My rules are thus and to be enforced via Internet Police, okay maybe just everyone dog piling on these people into a spiral of shame and sorrow.

  1.  48 hour spoiler protection for live TV.  Anyone who wants to see it that badly will find a way within that time window.   If you’re waiting for the DVD, come on now.  It’s 2013.  We can’t baby everyone.
  2. Movie spoilers up to the first week of DVD release.  Movies are coming out faster and faster to home media, and there should be some respect for those that tried to see it in theaters but just couldn’t for whatever reason.  Week of the DVD release you have no excuse if you want to see it that bad.
  3. Books you probably need to give a year.  This is the old media, and most read at their leisure, some wait for paperbacks or the price to go down in the Kindle/IBook’s store.  Anything pressing you want to discuss in literature you can surely find a message board somewhere to do it.

If we can all agree to these rules and enforce them via social network pressure, our Internet world will be a better place.

*Don’t Give a Fish

**Sure, we had VCRs by the 80s but they were notoriously unreliable.  Live TV was still the overwhelming norm.