Monday, December 14, 2015


It seems more and more that instead of writing, on this blog and elsewhere, I have succumb to tumbling.  My tumblr account, which I enjoy a great deal, worries me somewhat, though.

Consider the last ten posts (as of this writing):

1. The outside of a stone building, Empire style, lit on a foggy evening by yellow-orange streetlamps.
2. A gifset of Prime Minister Trudeau addressing the Syrian refugees who are now Canadian citizens.
3. A notice which calmly informs us that the digital disruption has already happened.
4. Seven stills, self-cultivated, to lend understanding and appreciation to one of my favorite films, Solaris.
5. Photo of a pink, gold and periwinkle art nouveau fireplace from Catalonia, built in 1908.
6. Post praising Margaret Hamilton, who created the code for the moon landing.
7. An angry response, from me, directed towards a Rugrats comic about bananas.
8. Leaves.
9. Seven images of space stations as envisioned by seventies artists.
10. Panel from Romantically Apocalyptic - an artistically masterful web comic.

Does any of this hold any significance?

I sort of doubt it, and yet here I am, fiddling away my time reposting, liking, and creating content for this image-based monster. In August I mentioned that Charlie Brooker has been important to my life. This has been manifold. 1) He hates television even more than I do, which is rare, while still acknowledging that it can be great to which I concur, and has detailed this in his very good series "How Television Has Ruined Your Life", 2) Black Mirror - the Twilight Zone for our times, in which he wrote every episode except my least favorite, and, important for the purposes of this article, 3) A special which investigates "How Video Games Changed the World".

This latter piece drops a bombshell after a thoroughly enjoyable hour and a half, with a decidedly Black Mirror-esque spin. Done chronologically, not hierarchically, tune in around the 1:33:00 min mark:

For those without the powers of video his conclusion, in a series that ranges from Pong to Pac-Man, Doom to Grand Theft Auto, Sims to Minecraft, the most recent (as of 2013) video game, and the one that has arguably changed the world the most is...


"Twitter is a massively multiplayer online game in which you choose an interesting avatar, and then roleplay a persona loosely based on your own, attempting to accrue followers by repeatedly pressing lettered buttons to form interesting sentences."

And I thought: "Damn." Or rather, daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn.

And, to be honest, since then, I can't see social media as anything more than a video game.

Don't get me wrong, games are fun sometimes. I spent a weekend in a cabin recently kicking my sister's butt at Trivial Pursuit. (Hi, Jess!) Games are well and good - but like all things, in moderation. And social networking for many, and I wager in this country most, adults it is not in moderation, but rather is all-consuming. I wonder if we would devote as much time to it if, instead of "social networking" we saw it as merely a game: frivolous, not creating value, an entertaining distraction or time-waster. Then again, perhaps we would still flock - goodness knows Candy Crush and Flappy Bird aren't unpopular, despite cultivating no skills, no intelligence, and arguably not really benefiting your life in any way when you play it. Brooker addresses why, given this lack of pragmatism, we do these things anyway:

"Each time Mario headbutts a block, he gets a coin; when he gets a hundred coins he gets an extra life. These perpetual little pats on the head compel you to bash those blocks for hours. By supplying a constant stream of fun-sized rewards social networking has, by accident, gamified whole aspects of our lives. Every second another little gold coin for you to collect: more followers, more retweets, compelling you to interact over, and over, again.

These are games we don't even realize we're playing."

Which brings me back to tumblr. It is damn satisfying to see something I post, anything, get reblogged by people I don't know. And it is quite disheartening when one of my little creations goes unnoticed (still no notes on my Solaris photoset...*frowny :( face* ).

If someone wanted to get rid of my account I would feel a pang, perhaps less so than if it were to happen to this blog, but still noticeable - because I've invested a lot of effort into my tumblr persona. And this game, tumblr, is one I've only played for a few months - I just started in May and I've made 620 posts this past month alone. I have 31 followers (far more than this blog). A gif I put up in the first days of the site has 497 notes...

No depth - none at all. It is as meaningless as the list of ten "representative" things I put above. This blog, on the other hand, has helped me plumb depths. And before anyone rails at me and says there is depth on tumblr - yes. Some people use it like a blog, and I can validate that. But that's not how I use it. I use it as a game, and in that regard, it is a dangerous, addictive, time-waster.

Now go follow me:

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