Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Social media

 

Grieving in the technology age is uncharted territory.

, July 20, 2016

I’ll take you back to Saturday, June 9, 2012. At 8:20 a.m., my 36-year-old husband was pronounced dead at a hospital just outside Washington, D.C.

By 9:20 a.m., my cellphone would not stop ringing or text-alerting me long enough for me to make the necessary calls that I needed to make: people like immediate family, primary-care doctors to discuss death certificates and autopsies, funeral homes to discuss picking him up, and so on.

Real things, important things, time-sensitive, urgent things.

Image via iStock.

At 9:47 a.m., while speaking to a police officer (because yes, when your spouse dies, you must be questioned by the police immediately), one call did make it through. I didn’t recognize the number. But in those moments, I knew I should break my normal rule and answer all calls. “He’s dead??? Oh my God. Who’s with you? Are you OK? Why am I reading this on Facebook? Taya, what the heck is going on?”

Facebook? I was confused. I hadn’t been on Facebook since the day before, so I certainly hadn’t taken the time in the last 90 minutes to peek at the site.

“I’ll call you back”, I screamed and hung up. I called my best friend and asked her to search for anything someone might have written and to contact them immediately and demand they delete it. I still hadn’t spoken to his best friend, or his godsister, or our godchild’s parents, or a million other people!

Why would someone post it to Facebook SO FAST?

While I can in no way speak for the entire planet, I certainly feel qualified to propose some suggestions or rules for social media grieving.

How many RIPs have you seen floating through your social media stream over the last month? Probably a few. Death is a fate that we will each meet at some point. The Information Age has changed the ways in which we live and communicate daily, yet there are still large voids in universally accepted norms.

This next statement is something that is impossible to understand unless you’ve been through it:

There is a hierarchy of grief.

Yes, a hierarchy. It’s something people either don’t understand or understand but don’t want to think or talk about — yet we must.

There is a hierarchy of grief.

Hierarchy is defined as:

  1. a system or organization in which people or groups are ranked one above the other according to status or authority, and
  2. an arrangement or classification of things according to relative importance or inclusiveness.

What does this mean as it relates to grief? Let me explain.

When someone dies  — whether suddenly or after a prolonged illness, via natural causes or an unnatural fate, a young person in their prime or an elderly person with more memories behind them than ahead — there is one universal truth : The ripples of people who are affected is vast and, at times, largely unknown to all other parties.

A death is always a gut punch with varying degrees of force and a reminder of our own mortality.

Most people are moved to express their love for the deceased by showing their support to the family and friends left behind.

In the days before social media, these expressions came in the form of phone calls, voicemail messages, and floral deliveries.

If you were lucky enough to be in close proximity to the family of the newly deceased, there were visits that came wrapped with hugs and tears, and deliveries of food and beverages to feed all the weary souls.

Insert social media. All of those courtesies still occur, but there is a new layer of grief expression — the online tribute in the form of Facebook posts, Instagram photo collages, and short tweets.

What’s the problem with that? Shouldn’t people be allowed to express their love, care, concern, support, and prayers for the soul of the recently deceased and for their family?

Yes.

And no.

Why? Because there are no established “rules,” and people have adopted their own.

This isn’t breaking news, and you’re not trying to scoop TMZ. Listen, I know you’re hurt. Guess what? Me too.

I know you’re shocked. Guess what? Me too. Your social media is an extension of who you are. I get it. You “need” to express your pain, acknowledge your relationship with the deceased, and pray for the family.

Yes.

However…

Please give us a minute.

We are shocked.

We are heartbroken.

Give the immediate family or circle a little time to handle the immediate and time-sensitive “business” related to death. In the minutes and early hours after someone passes away, social media is most likely the last thing on their minds. And even if it does cross their mind, my earlier statement comes into play here.

There is a hierarchy of grief.

Please pause and consider your role and relationship to the newly deceased. Remember, hierarchy refers to your status and your relative importance to the deceased.

I caution you to wait and then wait a little longer before posting anything. This may seem trivial, silly, and not worth talking about, but I promise you it isn’t.

If the person is married, let the spouse post first.

If the person is “young” and single, let the partner, parents, or siblings post first.

If the person is “old” and single, let the children post first.

If you can’t identify the family/inner circle of the person, you probably shouldn’t be posting at all.

Do you get where I’m going with this?

In theory, we should never compare grief levels, cast the grief-stricken survivors into roles, or use words like status and importance. But maybe we need to at this moment (and for the next few weeks and months).

The “RIP” posts started hitting my timeline about an hour after my husband’s death, and I certainly didn’t start them. This created a sense of confusion, fear, anxiety, panic, dread, and shock for the people who knew me, too.

What’s wrong? Who are we praying for? Did something happen? Did someone pass? Why are there RIPs on your wall and I can’t reach you? Call me please! What’s going on?

That’s a small sample of messages on my voicemail and text inbox. I had to take a minute in the midst of it all to ask a friend to post a status to my Facebook page on my behalf.

Your love and expressions of support are appreciated and needed, but they can also be ill-timed and create unintended additional stress.

The person is no less dead and your sympathy no less heartfelt if your post, photo, or tweet is delayed by a few hours. Honestly, the first couple of hours are shocking, and many things are a blur. Most bereaved people will be able to truly appreciate your love, concern, prayers, and gestures after the first 24 hours.

I’ve learned this from the inside — twice within the last four years. And I assure you that if we each adopted a little patience and restraint in this area, we would help those who are in the darkest hours of their lives by not adding an unnecessary layer of stress.

A few extra hours could make all the difference.

The Web We Have to Save

Controlled and monitored space of social media?

A good read.

Seven months ago, I sat down at the small table in the kitchen of my 1960s apartment, nestled on the top floor of a building in a vibrant central neighbourhood of Tehran, and I did something I had done thousands of times previously. I opened my laptop and posted to my new blog. This, though, was the first time in six years. And it nearly broke my heart.

A few weeks earlier, I’d been abruptly pardoned and freed from Evin prison in northern Tehran. I had been expecting to spend most of my life in those cells: In November 2008, I’d been sentenced to nearly 20 years in jail, mostly for things I’d written on my blog.

But the moment, when it came, was unexpected. I smoked a cigarette in the kitchen with one of my fellow inmates, and came back to the room I shared with a dozen other men.

We were sharing a cup of tea when the voice of the floor announcer — another prisoner — filled all the rooms and corridors. In his flat voice, he announced in Persian: “Dear fellow inmates, the bird of luck has once again sat on one fellow inmate’s shoulders. Mr. Hossein Derakhshan, as of this moment, you are free.”


That evening was the first time that I went out of those doors as a free man. Everything felt new: The chill autumn breeze, the traffic noise from a nearby bridge, the smell, the colors of the city I had lived in for most of my life.

Around me, I noticed a very different Tehran from the one I’d been used to.

An influx of new, shamelessly luxurious condos had replaced the charming little houses I was familiar with. New roads, new highways, hordes of invasive SUVs. Large billboards with advertisements for Swiss-made watches and Korean flat screen TVs.

Women in colorful scarves and manteaus, men with dyed hair and beards, and hundreds of charming cafes with hip western music and female staff.

They were the kinds of changes that creep up on people; the kind you only really notice once normal life gets taken away from you.

Two weeks later, I began writing again. Some friends agreed to let me start a blog as part of their arts magazine. I called it Ketabkhan — it means book-reader in Persian.

Six years was a long time to be in jail, but it’s an entire era online. Writing on the internet itself had not changed, but reading — or, at least, getting things read — had altered dramatically.

I’d been told how essential social networks had become while I’d been gone, and so I knew one thing: If I wanted to lure people to see my writing, I had to use social media now.

So I tried to post a link to one of my stories on Facebook. Turns out Facebook didn’t care much. It ended up looking like a boring classified ad. No description. No image. Nothing. It got three likes. Three! That was it.

It became clear to me, right there, that things had changed. I was not equipped to play on this new turf — all my investment and effort had burned up. I was devastated.

Blogs were gold and bloggers were rock stars back in 2008 when I was arrested.

At that point, and despite the fact the state was blocking access to my blog from inside Iran, I had an audience of around 20,000 people every day. Everybody I linked to would face a sudden and serious jump in traffic: I could empower or embarrass anyone I wanted.

People used to carefully read my posts and leave lots of relevant comments, and even many of those who strongly disagreed with me still came to read. Other blogs linked to mine to discuss what I was saying. I felt like a king.

The iPhone was a little over a year old by then, but smartphones were still mostly used to make phone calls and send short messages, handle emails, and surf the web. There were no real apps, certainly not how we think of them today. There was no Instagram, no SnapChat, no Viber, no WhatsApp.

Instead, there was the web, and on the web, there were blogs: the best place to find alternative thoughts, news and analysis. They were my life.

It had all started with 9/11.

I was in Toronto, and my father had just arrived from Tehran for a visit. We were having breakfast when the second plane hit the World Trade Center. I was puzzled and confused and, looking for insights and explanations, I came across blogs. Once I read a few, I thought: This is it, I should start one, and encourage all Iranians to start blogging as well.

So, using Notepad on Windows, I started experimenting. Soon I ended up writing on hoder.com, using Blogger’s publishing platform before Google bought it.

Then, on November 5, 2001, I published a step-to-step guide on how to start a blog. That sparked something that was later called a blogging revolution: Soon, hundreds and thousands of Iranians made it one of the top 5 nations by the number of blogs, and I was proud to have a role in this unprecedented democratization of writing.

Those days, I used to keep a list of all blogs in Persian and, for a while, I was the first person any new blogger in Iran would contact, so they could get on the list. That’s why they called me “the blogfather” in my mid-twenties — it was a silly nickname, but at least it hinted at how much I cared.

Every morning, from my small apartment in downtown Toronto, I opened my computer and took care of the new blogs, helping them gain exposure and audience. It was a diverse crowd — from exiled authors and journalists, female diarists, and technology experts, to local journalists, politicians, clerics, and war veterans — and I always encouraged even more. I invited more religious, and pro-Islamic Republic men and women, people who lived inside Iran, to join and start writing.

The breadth of what was available those days amazed us all. It was partly why I promoted blogging so seriously. I’d left Iran in late 2000 to experience living in the West, and was scared that I was missing all the rapidly emerging trends at home.

But reading Iranian blogs in Toronto was the closest experience I could have to sitting in a shared taxi in Tehran and listening to collective conversations between the talkative driver and random passengers.

There’s a story in the Quran that I thought about a lot during my first eight months in solitary confinement. In it, a group of persecuted Christians find refuge in a cave. They, and a dog they have with them, fall into a deep sleep. They wake up under the impression that they’ve taken a nap: In fact, it’s 300 years later. One version of the story tells of how one of them goes out to buy food — and I can only imagine how hungry they must’ve been after 300 years — and discovers that his money is obsolete now, a museum item. That’s when he realizes how long they have actually been absent.

The hyperlink was my currency six years ago.

Stemming from the idea of the hypertext, the hyperlink provided a diversity and decentralisation that the real world lacked. The hyperlink represented the open, interconnected spirit of the world wide web — a vision that started with its inventor, Tim Berners-Lee. The hyperlink was a way to abandon centralization — all the links, lines and hierarchies — and replace them with something more distributed, a system of nodes and networks.

Blogs gave form to that spirit of decentralization: They were windows into lives you’d rarely know much about; bridges that connected different lives to each other and thereby changed them. Blogs were cafes where people exchanged diverse ideas on any and every topic you could possibly be interested in. They were Tehran’s taxicabs writ large.

Since I got out of jail, though, I’ve realized how much the hyperlink has been devalued, almost made obsolete.

Nearly every social network now treats a link as just the same as it treats any other object — the same as a photo, or a piece of text — instead of seeing it as a way to make that text richer. You’re encouraged to post one single hyperlink and expose it to a quasi-democratic process of liking and plussing and hearting: Adding several links to a piece of text is usually not allowed. Hyperlinks are objectivized, isolated, stripped of their powers.

At the same time, these social networks tend to treat native text and pictures — things that are directly posted to them — with a lot more respect than those that reside on outside web pages.

One photographer friend explained to me how the images he uploads directly to Facebook receive a large number of likes, which in turn means they appear more on other people’s news feeds. On the other hand, when he posts a link to the same picture somewhere outside Facebook — his now-dusty blog, for instance — the images are much less visible to Facebook itself, and therefore get far fewer likes. The cycle reinforces itself.

Some networks, like Twitter, treat hyperlinks a little better. Others, insecure social services, are far more paranoid. Instagram — owned by Facebook — doesn’t allow its audiences to leave whatsoever. You can put up a web address alongside your photos, but it won’t go anywhere.

Lots of people start their daily online routine in these cul de sacs of social media, and their journeys end there. Many don’t even realize that they’re using the Internet’s infrastructure when they like an Instagram photograph or leave a comment on a friend’s Facebook video. It’s just an app.

But hyperlinks aren’t just the skeleton of the web: They are its eyes, a path to its soul. And a blind webpage, one without hyperlinks, can’t look or gaze at another webpage — and this has serious consequences for the dynamics of power on the web.

More or less, all theorists have thought of gaze in relation to power, and mostly in a negative sense: the gazer strips the gazed and turns her into a powerless object, devoid of intelligence or agency.

But in the world of webpages, gaze functions differently: It is more empowering. When a powerful website — say Google or Facebook — gazes at, or links to, another webpage, it doesn’t just connect it — it brings it into existence; gives it life.

Metaphorically, without this empowering gaze, your web page doesn’t breathe. No matter how many links you have placed in a webpage, unless somebody is looking at it, it is actually both dead and blind; and therefore incapable of transferring power to any outside web page.

On the other hand, the most powerful web pages are those that have many eyes upon them. Just like celebrities who draw a kind of power from the millions of human eyes gazing at them any given time, web pages can capture and distribute their power through hyperlinks.

But apps like Instagram are blind — or almost blind. Their gaze goes nowhere except inwards, reluctant to transfer any of their vast powers to others, leading them into quiet deaths. The consequence is that web pages outside social media are dying.

At the same time, these social networks tend to treat native text and pictures — things that are directly posted to them — with a lot more respect than those that reside on outside web pages.

One photographer friend explained to me how the images he uploads directly to Facebook receive a large number of likes, which in turn means they appear more on other people’s news feeds.

On the other hand, when he posts a link to the same picture somewhere outside Facebook — his now-dusty blog, for instance — the images are much less visible to Facebook itself, and therefore get far fewer likes. The cycle reinforces itself.

Popularity is not wrong in and of itself, but it has its own perils. In a free-market economy, low-quality goods with the wrong prices are doomed to failure.

Nobody gets upset when a quiet Brooklyn cafe with bad lattes and rude servers goes out of business. But opinions are not the same as material goods or services. They won’t disappear if they are unpopular or even bad. In fact, history has proven that most big ideas (and many bad ones) have been quite unpopular for a long time, and their marginal status has only strengthened them. Minority views are radicalized when they can’t be expressed and recognized.

Today the Stream is digital media’s dominant form of organizing information. It’s in every social network and mobile application.

Since I gained my freedom, everywhere I turn I see the Stream. I guess it won’t be too long before we see news websites organize their entire content based on the same principles. The prominence of the Stream today doesn’t just make vast chunks of the Internet biased against quality — it also means a deep betrayal to the diversity that the world wide web had originally envisioned.

There’s no question to me that the diversity of themes and opinions is less online today than it was in the past.

New, different, and challenging ideas get suppressed by today’s social networks because their ranking strategies prioritize the popular and habitual. (No wonder why Apple is hiring human editors for its news app.) But diversity is being reduced in other ways, and for other purposes.

Some of it is visual. Yes, it is true that all my posts on Twitter and Facebook look something similar to a personal blog: They are collected in reverse-chronological order, on a specific webpage, with direct web addresses to each post. But I have very little control over how it looks like; I can’t personalize it much. My page must follow a uniform look which the designers of the social network decide for me.

The centralization of information also worries me because it makes it easier for things to disappear. After my arrest, my hosting service closed my account, because I wasn’t able to pay its monthly fee.

But at least I had a backup of all my posts in a database on my own web server. (Most blogging platforms used to enable you to transfer your posts and archives to your own web space, whereas now most platforms don’t let you so.) Even if I didn’t, the Internet archive might keep a copy.

But what if my account on Facebook or Twitter is shut down for any reason? Those services themselves may not die any time soon, but it would be not too difficult to imagine a day many American services shut down accounts of anyone who is from Iran, as a result of the current regime of sanctions. If that happened, I might be able to download my posts in some of them, and let’s assume the backup can be easily imported into another platform.

But what about the unique web address for my social network profile?

Would I be able to claim it back later, after somebody else has possessed it? Domain names switch hands, too, but managing the process is easier and more clear— especially since there is a financial relationship between you and the seller which makes it less prone to sudden and untransparent decisions.

But the scariest outcome of the centralization of information in the age of social networks is something else: It is making us all much less powerful in relation to governments and corporations.

Surveillance is increasingly imposed on civilized lives, and it just gets worse as time goes by. The only way to stay outside of this vast apparatus of surveillance might be to go into a cave and sleep, even if you can’t make it 300 years.

Being watched is something we all eventually have to get used to and live with and, sadly, it has nothing to do with the country of our residence.

Ironically enough, states that cooperate with Facebook and Twitter know much more about their citizens than those, like Iran, where the state has a tight grip on the Internet but does not have legal access to social media companies.

What is more frightening than being merely watched, though, is being controlled.

When Facebook can know us better than our parents with only 150 likes, and better than our spouses with 300 likes, the world appears quite predictable, both for governments and for businesses. And predictability means control.

Middle-class Iranians, like most people in the world, are obsessed with new trends. Utility or quality of things usually comes second to their trendiness.

In early 2000s writing blogs made you cool and trendy, then around 2008 Facebook came in and then Twitter. Since 2014 the hype is all about Instagram, and no one knows what is next.

But the more I think about these changes, the more I realize that even all my concerns might have been misdirected. Perhaps I am worried about the wrong thing. Maybe it’s not the death of the hyperlink, or the centralization, exactly.

Maybe it’s that text itself is disappearing.

After all, the first visitors to the web spent their time online reading web magazines. Then came blogs, then Facebook, then Twitter. Now it’s Facebook videos and Instagram and SnapChat that most people spend their time on.

There’s less and less text to read on social networks, and more and more video to watch, more and more images to look at. Are we witnessing a decline of reading on the web in favor of watching and listening?

Is this trend driven by people’s changing cultural habits, or is it that people are following the new laws of social networking? I don’t know — that’s for researchers to find out — but it feels like it’s reviving old cultural wars.

After all, the web started out by imitating books and for many years, it was heavily dominated by text, by hypertext. Search engines put huge value on these things, and entire companies — entire monopolies — were built off the back of them.

But as the number of image scanners and digital photos and video cameras grows exponentially, this seems to be changing. Search tools are starting to add advanced image recognition algorithms; advertising money is flowing there.

But the Stream, mobile applications, and moving images: They all show a departure from a books-internet toward a television-internet. We seem to have gone from a non-linear mode of communication — nodes and networks and links — toward a linear one, with centralization and hierarchies.

The web was not envisioned as a form of television when it was invented. But, like it or not, it is rapidly resembling TV: linear, passive, programmed and inward-looking.

When I log on to Facebook, my personal television starts. All I need to do is to scroll: New profile pictures by friends, short bits of opinion on current affairs, links to new stories with short captions, advertising, and of course self-playing videos. I occasionally click on like or share button, read peoples’ comments or leave one, or open an article.

But I remain inside Facebook, and it continues to broadcast what I might like. This is not the web I knew when I went to jail. This is not the future of the web. This future is television.

Sometimes I think maybe I’m becoming too strict as I age. Maybe this is all a natural evolution of a technology. But I can’t close my eyes to what’s happening:

A loss of intellectual power and diversity, and on the great potentials it could have for our troubled time. In the past, the web was powerful and serious enough to land me in jail. Today it feels like little more than entertainment. So much that even Iran doesn’t take some — Instagram, for instance — serious enough to block.

I miss when people took time to be exposed to different opinions, and bothered to read more than a paragraph or 140 characters. I miss the days when I could write something on my own blog, publish on my own domain, without taking an equal time to promote it on numerous social networks; when nobody cared about likes and reshares.

That’s the web I remember before jail. That’s the web we have to save.

Andrew Bossone shared this link

The controlled and monitored space of social media and the fewer opinions online that developed in the years that an Iranian blogger was imprisoned.

The rich, diverse, free web that I loved — and spent years in an Iranian jail for — is dying. Why is nobody stopping it?
medium.com|By Hossein Derakhshan

Science revolution via social media

Published online 3 August 2015

Nature Middle East speaks to the region’s most prominent science communicators about their efforts to spread knowledge and debunk myths in the Arab world.

Nadia El-Awady,

Left to right: Nidhal Guessoum, Alyaa Gad, Islam Hussein, Maan Kattan, Mohamed Elnazer, and Mohamed Qasem
Left to right: Nidhal Guessoum, Alyaa Gad, Islam Hussein, Maan Kattan, Mohamed Elnazer, and Mohamed Qasem

The announcement in 2014 that Egypt had invented “devices” that could diagnose and cure AIDS and hepatitis C virus in more than 90% of cases came as a great shock to Egyptian virologist, Islam Hussein.

The Engineering Authority of the Egyptian Armed Forces made the spurious claims before an audience that included the interim president Adly Mansour, the former -commander-in-chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces and soon-to-be president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

The new cure would be available in military hospitals on June 30, the authorities claimed.

The news created a storm on traditional and social media platforms in Egypt attracting the attention of Hussein who was at his base at MIT in the US.

“After watching the press conference and the huge media propaganda that followed, I realized that something terribly wrong was going on. I have never felt that disappointed in my entire life,” he remembers. “I knew these devices lacked any sound scientific basis. I also knew the impact would be huge given how widespread hepatitis C infection is in Egypt.”

Hussein scoured journal articles and the Internet for information on the devices and the team that claimed to have invented and patented them.

He produced a PowerPoint presentation, stood in front of a video camera and, using his expertise as a virologist, proceeded to discredit the claims. Within three days, his 80-minute YouTube video had been viewed 50,000 times.

All of a sudden this guy comes out on social media with a calm, confident and professional tone and firm promises to deliver a neutral scientific critique of the Armed Forces’ claims,” Hussein says, explaining why he thinks his video became so popular.

Hussein says he was told by the eminent Egyptian historian Dr. Khaled Fahmy that his video had changed the course of action.

“My video paved the way for a healthy public debate away from the overheated media propaganda. Talking science and only science made a lot of difference, even to those blind supporters who had strong political agendas.”

Although the public communication of science comes in many forms in the West, it lags behind in the Arab world.

“Traditional Arab media, particularly TV, have failed to communicate science well to the general public,” says astrophysicist Nidhal Guessoum from the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. “We do not have our Neil deGrasse Tyson or Brian Cox.”

Through his Twitter feed which is followed by 18,000 people and his 8,000 Facebook friends, Guessoum communicates about astronomy and other scientific topics he feels are relevant to Arab audiences.

Guessoum has also produced 52 YouTube episodes on astronomy. “It could have been done even better, but with a total budget of exactly zero dirhams, I am very proud of what we produced.”

Swiss-based Egyptian physician Alyaa Gad has taken her self-funded science communication initiative a step further.

Together with a Swiss producer, she launched the online media platform Afham TV in Arabic in 2013 and later launched iUnderstand.TV in English.

The goal is to spread health education for disease prevention in the Arab world and to answer “embarrassing” medical questions that Arabs often refrain from asking due to cultural barriers, she tells Nature Middle East.

The channel, which has more than 200 informative videos, all paid for by Gad, has nearly 150,000 subscribers and more than 30 million views, she says.

“I want to make the world a better place and this is my contribution,” says Gad.

I don’t believe in bloody revolutions, so I’m leading my own quiet one. Education is the key to change. Nothing else can improve our situation before education.”

The uptake of social media use has been one of the best assets science has had in this region, says Kuwaiti electrical engineer Mohamed Qasem. “Without it, we would be left with very few options, if any.”

Qasem says it’s disappointing to see how few people follow well-known, non-scientific figures through social media in the Arab world, compared to the Western world, indicating that Arabs perhaps tend to veer away from science discussion.

“Maybe that’s due to regional instabilities. I’m just glad that we are able to use these tools to deliver science,” he says.

Qasem produces self-funded, semi-regular podcasts on Sciwarepod.com covering many topics including physics, health, technology and biology. In some podcasts, he develops a titillating narrative to grab listeners’ attention. In others, he brings in guest experts to answer questions related to their fields.

“The evolution episodes were a hit. Listeners loved them despite it being a controversial topic,” he says. “For a long time I avoided talking about it because I feared it would alienate listeners.”

Qasem was forced to place a cautionary statement at the beginning of each episode “to defuse the emotional backlash,” he says.

“My goal was to explain evolution truthfully without requiring that anyone listening should believe it. I think that this approach put listeners in their comfort zone while I was able to tell them how it worked.”

In fact, Qasem didn’t receive any complaints about his evolution episodes, despite how controversial the topic normally is among Muslims.

Some listeners told him they were extremely grateful because he explained evolution without any biases.

“Some of them were shocked that they had been lied to all this time about evolution. They were quite angry… about the misinformation they had been fed all their lives.”

A few voiced their reservations, but they remained polite. “This is understandable,” Qasem says.

“It’s hard to unseat misunderstandings. However, my goal isn’t to turn people into evolution believers. My goal is to educate people, then they can decide for themselves.”

Egyptian dermatologist Mohamed Elnazer who started publishing short five-minute YouTube videos on a variety of health issues in Arabic in November 2014 has many similar positive experiences.

Not only has he received messages of gratitude from viewers, but he says 90% of patients who visit him in his clinic got to know him through his videos. “People tell me, ‘At last we found someone who is explaining things honestly,’” he says.

But it’s not all positive. Two of his videos, which happen to have the highest viewings, have also caused him the most trouble.

In one, Elnazer explains how different hair-straightening products work and their drawbacks. Hairdressers were not happy. “One of them came to me in my clinic to tell me that I’m misleading people with this information,” he said.

Another video debunked common cultural misconceptions that masturbation has negative health effects, such as causing knee pains.

Elnazer has received many insults through social media because of this video, with people calling him a liar, “anti-Islam,” and “Shiite.”

“But at the same time, the positive feedback I get on both videos is a lot more than the negative ones, which encourages me to continue,” he says.

Despite the time and cost of their communication efforts, they all plan to continue and would like to develop projects for more mainstream media.

Saudi anaesthesiologist Maan Kattan uses Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat to talk about anaesthesia and pain management, in addition to a variety of other health-related topics.

He collects it all in Storify, making it easy for Arab audiences to access the things he talks about by topic. He has around 32,000 followers on Twitter and just under 5,000 followers on other networks. “I think going more mainstream media would increase the impact,” he says. They all agree.

In the meantime, Islam Hussein continues to film videos from the small studio he established in his basement.

“My Ebola video series was recorded in my home office before moving down to the basement,” he says, “and my son was the cameraman and director.”

OxfordDictionaries.com adds

neckbeard, Yolo, listicle, humblebrag, binge-watch and side-boob as it sees rise in use due to social media use

Do you humblebrag about your neckbeard and sideboob? How adorbs.

The latest intake of works to OxfordDictionaries.com show how language emerging on social media and the internet are increasingly entering common use.

New entires include humblebrag, which refers to a post or comment made by someone that boasts about an achievement in the same sentence as a self-deprecating comment.

Abbreviations that are often used on sites such as Twitter, where the number of characters that can be posed are limited, are also among the new entrants.

These include adorbs, an adjective that is popular that means something is cute or adorable, and Yolo, favourite with teenagers which is an acronym of You Only Live Once.

Listicle refers to an internet article presented in the form of a numbered or bullet-pointed list.

According to OxfordDictionaries.com’s language monitoring programme, the use of binge-watch increased fourfold in February and tripled in June, based on its average use over the last two years.

They said there were spikes around the releases of House Of Cards season two in February 2014 and Orange Is The New Black season two in June 2014.

Changes in our media consumption habits also have also seen hate-watch – watching a programme for the sake of the enjoyment derived from mocking or criticising it – being added to the list of new words.

Technology in general has a strong influence on the English language, with other new entires including acquihire, clickbait, Deep Web, dox, fast follower, geocache, in silico, octocopter, responsive, smartwatch, and tech-savvy.

The Oxford Corpus reveals an approximate tenfold increase in usage of the terms vape and e-cig in the last two years, as electronic devices which enable people to inhale smokeless nicotine vapour have become increasingly widespread.

E-cigarette, added to OxfordDictionaries.com in August 2012, has seen an even sharper rise in usage.

However, despite the fact that e-cigarettes were not commercially available until the 21st century, the word vaping dates to 1983, when it was used to describe a hypothetical smoking device being considered at the time.

Other informal or slang terms added include bank of mum and dad, bro hug, cray, hench, hot mess, mansplain, side-eye, side boob and spit-take.

The abbreviation cray – meaning crazy – seems to have arisen initially in the reduplicated form cray cray in the early 2000s, but it was popularised in its single-syllable form when used by Kanye West in the hook to a track from his collaboration album with Jay Z.

New words, senses, and phrases are added to OxfordDictionaries.com once editors have gathered enough independent evidence from a range of sources to be confident that they have widespread currency in English.

Oxford Dictionaries editor Katherine Connor Martin said: “One of the advantages of our unique language monitoring programme is that it enables us to explore how English language evolves differently across the world.

“Naturally, many words are used in similar frequencies in the UK and US, for instance the informal additions amazeballs and neckbeard.

“However, some new slang and informal words catch on much more quickly in a particular variety of English-for instance, in our monitoring sample, side boob is more than 10 times more common in the UK than in the US (although this is due in part to its frequent use in the British media), whereas adorbs is used about four times more often in the US as in the UK.”

Amazeballs means impressive or very enjoyable.

The new entries mentioned above have been added to OxfordDictionaries.com, not the Oxford English Dictionary.

 Jamil BERRY posted on FB

COMMUNIQUER

Lorsque j’étais gosse, rentrant de l’école par une journée d’hiver, les ruelles du vieux Saïda étaient un peu sombres et je me rappelle que voyant se profiler la silhouette imposante d’un passant, cela m’insécurisait à tel point qu’arrivé à hauteur de ce dernier, je lui disais ” Bonsoir monsieur ” et quand il me répondait, toute ma peur se dissipait parce que je considérais que je l’ai démystifié.

C’était l’enfance .

Des reliquats de ce trait de comportement nous restent accrochés à l’âge adulte . C’est du moins ce que je pense car si vous croyez démystifier quelqu’un pour avoir eu le privilège de communiquer avec lui , vous vous trompez lourdement.

Le piège de la communication est la “banalisation” de la personne avec laquelle nous avons communiqué.

Le pire c’est l’effet boomerang qui vous revient par ricochet , comme par exemple le fait de vous sentir inutile dans la vie de quelqu’un qui est heureux .

Auriez vous omis de penser que s’il est heureux c’est quelque part
grâce à vous ? …

Bonsoir …

( Jamil BERRY )

Social media on public perception? Gaza vs Israel 

What’s the impact of social media on public perception you ask?

What's the impact of social media on public perception you ask? Recent polls show Americans ages 18-29 think Israelis aggression is unjust by a margin of 2:1. Apartheid Israel pays people to go online and support them and even with that their voices calling for genocide are drowned out by the voices of decent human beings around the world saying enough is enough. The end of zionism is near God willing. #FreePalestine #GazaUnderAttack #GazaUnderFire #SupportGaza #PrayForGaza

Recent polls show Americans ages 18-29 think Israelis aggression is unjust by a margin of 2:1.

Apartheid Israel pays people to go online and support them and even with that their voices calling for genocide are drowned out by the voices of decent human beings around the world saying enough is enough.

T#‎FreePalestine‬ ‪#‎GazaUnderAttack‬ ‪#‎GazaUnderFire‬ ‪#‎SupportGaza‬ ‪#‎PrayForGaza‬

Naomi Wolf posted:

Very late where I am.

Events in Gaza go beyond words yesterday and today. We are witnessing a holocaust and those who do not rise up to stop it are complicit.

Prose fails at the murder of innocents.

Where words fail poets have a role.

This is for the innocents dead this past two weeks in Gaza and in the region.

I have posted this “Dirge Without Music” by Edna St Vincent Millay before.

Some of us help death by inaction and hardness of heart and some are “not resigned.” May we of all backgrounds continue to join together as not being resigned.

Dirge Without Music

BY EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the
love,—
They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

The thermostat and the frying pan analogy for various objectives

If you want to cool your house to 68 degrees Fahrenheit quickly, setting the thermostat to 62 degrees isn’t going to get it temperate any faster than if you set it to 68. It blows full cold until it hits the number, then it stops.

(For those down under where it is winter, the opposite is also true–extreme thermostat settings won’t warm you up any faster).

Frying pans don’t work that way. Turning the temperature on the burner all the way up will certainly heat up that pan faster.

Seth Godin posted this June 18, 2013:

There is significant pressure on marketers to get it done fast. Ah, an analogy!

And so the inclination to spend a lot, to race around, to turn the thermostat to its most extreme state.

All the yelling doesn’t build your brand faster.

In fact, it might do quite the opposite. Trusted brands don’t get there by spending their whole budget on one Super Bowl ad.

Valuable marketing campaigns are the result of time and user experience, not media and more media. Tweeting more often doesn’t make your tweets have more resonance.

On the other hand, product design and user interaction definitely benefit from the frying pan approach. Extraordinary products, remarkable stories, intense connection via user interaction–these things actually do scale quickly.

The movie business has seduced itself into believing that they can turn the thermostat to absolute zero and use a massive media push to make a moribund movie work. They can’t.

Movie business would be far better off putting the risk and the effort into making movies worth talking about instead.

Social media is a marathon, a gradual process in which you build a reputation.

The best time to start was a while ago. The second best time to start is today. But turning it up to 11 isn’t going to get you there faster.

The confrontation waiting to happen: The essential confrontation is with yourself

It’s not between you and your boss, your critics, your editor, your competition, your spouse or some other outsider.

You are your own biggest critic. And it takes time to observe and form your own ideas.

And your own biggest competitor.

Now that it’s easier than ever to pick yourself, the question is, “why haven’t you?”

And now that it’s easier to ignore the competition and become a category of one, the question is the same.

Our instinct is to externalize the forces that are holding us back, but in fact, that’s not the problem, is it?


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

June 2020
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