My Home on the Internet

Regarding Facebook Friends

Added on by Breki Tomasson.

Over at The Verge, Ellis Hamburger has written another clever article. It's about how there's a disconnect between Facebook's concept of "friend" and how that word is used in the real world. I suggest everybody read it and - if they have time, another article he wrote named "The Era of Facebook is an Anomaly"

Looking through my own friends list, I can see this being very much the case. Most people on my friend list aren't really what I would call "friends", but people that have existed in the periphery of my social circles at some point during my life. They're my friends' parents, friends of ex-girlfriends, people I went to high school with, people who hung out at the same clubs as I did twelve years ago and people who just so happened to work at the same office as I did for a couple of months.

According to some social theories, a person is only able to maintain 30-50 close friendships at any one time and another 100-120 casual acquaintances outside of that. Anything more than that, and it becomes more work to maintain the relationship than the return is worth. This theory is called Dunbar's Number, and I think Facebook friendships should reflect this.

The ability to reach everyone I know in one place is no longer a novelty. We don’t want to see daily updates from everyone we meet in perpetuity. Facebook’s contingency plan for dealing with its friendship paradox — that ballooning Friends lists both clog the News Feed and make it awkward to share — is its increasingly intelligent algorithm, which aims to show only relevant content in your feed. But algorithms can only go so far when we're adding new friends quicker than we're unfriending old ones, and Facebook is afraid to show you the same page twice. When people say, "I hate Facebook," what I think they’re really saying is, "I wish my real friends would post more stuff so my feed wasn't full of randos."

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to scale down my Facebook friend list to match how things actually look in reality. I've already closed down most of my Facebook presence to "Friends Only", and next I'm going to trim the actual members of that list. I'll get rid of the people I don't talk to, don't want to talk to or that I have drifted away from. It's not personal, it's just that I want to reduce the size of my social circle for now and focus on those people and those tasks that really matter to me. The job of keeping up with people takes surprisingly much out of every day. I don't want to go to Facebook for debate, I want to go to Facebook to keep in touch with my closest friends and family and have truly meaningful interactions. 

I'm keeping my Twitter and Instagram completely public, as the 'follow' functionality there makes a lot more sense than any other buddy system out there. The way Google+ allows us to put people in "Circles" without them having to do the same is, in many ways, the perfect way of doing this. I'll be keeping the "Follow" functionality available on my Facebook page for people who still want to be able to see any public posts that I make.

There are No Women on the Internet

Added on by Breki Tomasson.

There's an old saying that used to be quite popular in online circles. It goes "There are no women on the Internet". As suggests, the term was originally:

a tongue-in-cheek adage which implies that there are no female entities actually participating in online activities, especially when it comes to anonymous exchanges in chatrooms and discussion forums. The outdated myth also jests that the Internet is essentially a “sausage fest” dominated and defined by male internet users and a smaller population of male trolls or griefers who pose as women in pursuit of lulz.

This was certainly true back in the late 90s and early 2000s, but has changed. Today, women are on the Internet; in many places just as active as men - or more active. The phrase obviously needs to be either abandoned or revised and brought into the century that we live in, changed to keep pace with the fact that, yes; there are women on the Internet. The new phrase that I suggest for us to use instead is:

There are no women on the Internet.

The more perceptive of you might have noticed that I'm using the exactly same words that the old phrase - even in the same order - but that's just an accident of circumstance. The phrase might as well have been "there are no men on the Internet", "there are no white people on the Internet", "there are no black people on the Internet", "there are no old people on the Internet", "there are no teenagers on the Internet" or any other group you might have in mind.

The reason, of course, is anonymity. On the Internet, we're reduced to our opinions, not our gender, skin color or sexual orientation. This is what The Mentor was talking about in The Hacker's Manifesto when he wrote:

We exist without skin color, without nationality, without religious bias

It's not that we don't have skin color, nationality or religious bias, but they're not important to the discussion at hand. When I'm talking about a stranger on the Internet, I'm ultimately not interested in hir gender, skin colour, nationality, or sexual orientation unless that's what the discussion is about. We might be fangasming over the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe movie together without even once realizing that the other person has an ethnicity and gender.

There are no women on the Internet.

The Goals - Updated

Added on by Breki Tomasson.

It's been a quarter, and I'd like to post a quick update on my progress with the various goals that I had for the first quarter. They were:

  • Quarter 1 (Jan-March):
    1. Get E's stuff - and cats - out of my apartment.
    2. Get baseboard installed in my office.
    3. Frame and hang Zelda map & X-files poster.
    4. Toss out all the stored up junk from the apartment, balcony and basement.
    5. Get my Green Arrow tattoo.

I've finished 3, 4, 5. Instead of doing 2, I went a step further and laid brand new floor in the office. I'll be polishing and painting the walls during the summer and will be adding the baseboard later. As for getting E's stuff and cats out of the apartment - still no luck. Hopefully during April.

I've also managed to finish these goals that I had set up for future months:

  • Be a guest on a non-CSICON podcast.
  • Have at least one (net) profitable month from my online projects.

It's Discrimination!

Added on by Breki Tomasson.

I can't hide it any longer; the truth needs to come out. I'm sick and tired of people pulling the discrimination card as soon as things don't go their way.

Sure; sometimes there actually is real discrimination going on, but a lot of these cases are just people not taking responsibility for their own choices and attitydes. When Mr. Tumelo Makongo doesn't get the job he applied for, it might be because there were fifty applicants and the company went for the person with most experience - they probably didn't discriminate because he was black. They might have - but probably didn't. When Sarah Jordan doesn't get the promotion she wanted, it might just be because she doesn't deserve it yet or because the year's budget doesn't have room for it - they're probably not discriminating against her because she's a woman. They might be - but probably aren't.

We all intuitively understand that this is the case. Most companies care far more about their bottom line than anything else; they don't really care if their employees are black, white, male, female, gay or straight - they just want the best person for the job. That's why news stories like the following piss me off. 

A woman with strong anti-abortion sentiments applies for a job as midwife, a job where abortions may be a part of her expected duties. She tells her prospective employer that, if she is ever asked to assist in an abortion, she will refuse. She doesn't get the job, of course, and claims she's being discriminated against. She's not, though. She's being passed over because other applicants are willing to do 100% of the tasks involved in the position.

Here's another favorite. A doctor refuses to shake the hand of one of his patients, citing religious reasons. The patient is so offended by this abhorrent treatment that she sues the doctor! Sure; not shaking the hand of your patient might be understandable if she's bleeding from open sores on her knuckles and frothing at the mouth, but a doctor not being allowed to touch his female patients has to be a problem, right?

I understand that people want their religious choices not to affect their jobs; I really do. However, I also expect people to have some sort of understanding that any major choices they make in life have both positive and negative side effects. Is it really so strange of me to expect that a person that converts to a religion with strong food rules is going to be looked at strangely when he or she applies for a food tasting job. Is it strange that the employer becomes suspicious when the woman wearing the hijab comes in and applies for a job as a hair model?

This is not racial or religious profiling.

This is not discrimination.

This is a business looking for the right person for the right job, and I don't see why that is a problem.

A Life Saved by Biceps Curls

Added on by Breki Tomasson.

I don't like reposting other people's content, but this was just too good to pass up. I found this on the subreddit /r/fitness, as written by /u/imoverherenohere:

For anyone who has had to ride public transportation, you know it is prone to spasmodic fits of lurches. Whatever gremlins live in the rails or in the minds of the train operators make a smooth, calm ride the pipe dream of Utopian fancy. The uninitiated should be informed that this is a prime opportunity for the activation of the gluteus maximus, tibialis anterior, and rectus femoris among others. Stand on trains, get swole.

Roughly a year ago, I was on my commute to work as usual. All the seats were occupied by people either sleeping, reading, or trying to avoid eye contact with those standing in order to avoid the guilt induced by their comparative comfort. A woman, at least 8 months pregnant, waddled on to the train. You could hear the collective brows furrowing as all seated passengers focused more intently on the hideous, MC Hammer inspired carpet weave between their feet. Like the Spartans in Thermopylae, they would hold their ground.

Said pregnant woman moved in the car, standing some four feet across the aisle from me. Before she could set her feet properly, or grasp a pole for support, the train lurched forward as if shot from a bow. This woman had not been following a balanced split routine, and had approximately 15 lbs of uncentered gainz protruding from her. She began to tip backwards on her heels like a tree being felled. In a flash of divine inspiration, I sprang into action. Reaching for the rail hanging from the ceiling, I wrapped my fingers tightly around it. No time to chalk up. I orangutaned across the car, stretching my left arm behind her. Dumbbell isolation had insured it was equal to the task.

She and unborn child landed on my forearm. With a slow controlled release, I allowed my arm to extend completely underneath her weight, softening her fall and achieving full ROM. As I curled her body upwards, we locked eyes. I knew in that moment she loved me. She gazed at me with the fire I reserve for my protein shaker and an open power rack. As I slowly righted her, she mouthed, "Thank you." Bicep Charles whispered back, "No, thank you."

An abashed man relinquished his seat, which she took in an instant. We never spoke another word to each other. I moved down the car and returned to activating my glutes, the train thundering down the dark tunnel, lights flickering as we passed.