Lauri Love Banned from Twitter

Lauri Love, the British hacktivist who the United Kingdom has agreed to send to the United States to face charges despite pleas from over 100 MPs that he not be extradited, was permanently banned from Twitter this week. His account was @LauriLoveX.

The reasons are unclear, as no specific charges were fully explained to Love. It is understood that the reasons are related to an “alleged violent threat.” He wrote a few hours ago, “Being an actual Nazi on twitter: fine and dandy. Advocating punching Nazis on twitter: permanently banned for violent threats. This is why we can’t have nice things… (Only told I will never get my account back for obscure probably made-up reasons after starting a dozen support threads.)”
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Guilty!

As recently as not long ago, I wrote about pencils and pens. I reiterated a promise to myself that I would not spend my money on expensive writing tools.

Well, so much for that noise coming out of my talker. Behold, my three-pack of Blackwing pencils. (Photo above.)
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#OpKKK: Anonymous vs. The Klan

(Updated at 4:00 p.m. to add information.)

Last night, various Twitter accounts said to be associated with Anonymous, the famous hacktivist collective, started to publish links to documents listing names of people it says are members of the Ku Klux Klan, including four U.S. senators. Further, it announced that it had shut down several KKK websites and servers.

Several minutes ago, the official Twitter account for the operation, @Operation_KKK, wrote, “This account has NOT YET released any information. We believe in due diligence and will NOT recklessly involve innocent individuals #OpKKK.” (Tweet image below the fold.)
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This Week’s Puzzler

The upcoming week offers a sad anniversary and a happy birthday, both of which will be commemorated in these virtual pages on the appropriate dates, but something has me perplexed today.

Yesterday, I received my copy of the English translation of Raif Badawi‘s book, “1000 Lashes: Because I Say What I Think,” a few days before official publication. First things first: I urge everyone to buy it, as proceeds from the title are slated to aid his wife, Ensaf Haidar, and his children; I will be writing about the book this week; and in the interest of full disclosure, my columns about Raif Badawi have appeared on the RaifBadawi.org website. Today is the 1172nd day Raif Badawi has spent in prison in his home country of Saudi Arabia. He was sentenced to 10 years in jail and 1000 lashes for writing about liberalism. In the last year, hundreds of people have created a social media movement to attract and maintain attention on his case and Amnesty International reports that public involvement in his story has set records in that organization’s history. In a concert this summer in Canada, Bono spoke of the case from the stage while singing U2’s hit “Pride (In the Name of Love).”

Other than the fact that he should not be in prison for writing, none of the above is perplexing me today. This is:
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No Bullies. No Drama. Only Comedies on TV

The comments territory under any YouTube video is an unlighted playground with shards of glass for sliding boards and a ball-pit full of barbed wire. There is no “thumbs-down” or dislike button available on Facebook, for obvious reasons. Comments are certainly allowed, and often the prevailing rhetorical mode is insult and injury.

Twitter may as well be one big dislike button sometimes. Not in my experience so far, except for two or three times. Each one of these is etched in my co-dependent memory, however.

When I started publishing on WordPress a year an a half ago, I wondered: What will it be like to have my work exposed to a comments section?
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#FreeRaif, Week 5

For the fourth week in a row, Raif Badawi, a writer in Saudi Arabia, was not whipped fifty times yesterday as part of his public punishment for insulting his nation’s official religion in his blog. No one is breathing a sigh of relief that this counts as sparing him, or that he is about to be freed.

Amnesty International broke the news this morning via Twitter:

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Put a #Hashtag on It

Many writers will claim that they “write for themselves.” This is true enough, but attention, constructive criticism, and a few “attaboys” will make the days creep at a better than petty pace.

In this social media saturated age, in which both of my septuagenarian parents have Facebook accounts and people who state that they do not understand Twitter have a couple thousand followers on that service, drawing attention to one’s work without purchasing advertising time on the radio to scream for 30 continuous seconds seems difficult. For me, a naturally quiet sort, sharing the publication of a new piece naturally feels unnatural, like recording that 30-second Janovian advertisement. Screaming is so unseemly.

But here I am, addicted to my numbers, measuring my metrics each day. It is an inner battle between believing that what I write is worth being written (does having readers or a reader equal “worth”? No, of course not) and wanting people to discover this (un)certain idea for themselves.

In the Peter Cook-Dudley Moore film, “Bedazzled,” poor Stanley Moon (Moore) wants the affection of Margaret (Eleanor Bron). The Devil, George Spigott (Peter Cook), offers him seven wishes to win her. In one, Stanley is a gold-lamé-costumed rock star whose new hit song “Love Me!” drives all the young women, including Margaret, wild. The lyrics, and Moore’s performance, are little more than him yelling “Love Me!” The very next act, Drimble Wedge and the Vegetations, wins them all over to the Devil, George, when he speak-sings his contempt for their affections. (“I’m self-contained. Leave me alone,” goes the new hit, and his dry loathing for them makes the women in the audience desire him all the more.) Stanley gets run over in the crowd rushing to the Devil at the end of his song.

 

I want to be like George Spigott, the Devil, and declare my lack of outer needs like affection (so banal) and love (so, ugh, human), so that all life-forms on planet Earth will run over each other to cover me in kisses, but really, I am like Stanley. The mere thought of wanting to be like the Devil makes me that much more like Stanley, too.

There are tools to get attention in the cacophony of voices making themselves heard in our social-media-saturated world. (I used to teach freshman college English, and any time that I write something like “In the world” or “In our such-and-such world,” I always hear the nonsense phrase that I saw again and again at the beginning of my students’ papers: “In our world of today.”) But if I hit “publicize,” a fine WordPress tool made available to those of us who use it, and my post goes to Facebook, there it sits as a reminder to people who already know about this website right here. My personal friends. If it gets publicized to Twitter, it gets lost in the dozens of posts per second that whiz past any number of readers.

The hashtag tool seems to be one item that helps the world of noise organize itself. And it has helped me direct some attention toward some columns. And it has not helped me at all, also. Like all imperfect things, it is imperfect. And that is perfect, because it is something else to learn about, experiment with, and use.

And what does a hashtag do? When one posts something on the different media platforms, a label with this punctuation mark: #, is what is called hashtagged. It helps the post get clumped together with anything else so labelled, so that people who might be interested in what it is about might find it. The title of this piece, “Put a #Hashtag On It,” will automatically be clumped together with anything else containing “#hashtag” in the title or description. (How many of those might there be today? We will see.) For the last week or so, the hashtagged phrase, “#ICantBreathe” (minus the quotation marks) has been getting a lot of attention, for good and obvious reasons. It is a shorthand way of saying, “Here is a good article about this topic or concern” or “I am showing solidarity with this concern.”

Here is a good article about this: “Now Trending: Hashtags.”

But it is an imperfect tool. Yesterday was Tom Waits’ birthday and I tweeted two tribute tweets. Both had #TomWaits in the statement. One Tweet was shared and re-shared, by people I have never before encountered on Twitter, hundreds of times according to Twitter (the first one below), and the other? Well, it was not.

What was the difference between the two? I have no idea.

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The WordPress Daily Prompt for December 7 asks, “What’s the most important (or interesting, or unexpected) thing about blogging you know today that you didn’t know a month ago?”

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I, Toward a Metrics of Me

In the interest of full self-disclosure, what follows will disclose nothing about me.

I am a Twitterer. I Tweet. Once a year or so, I will participate in the nightly cocktail party, the veritable Algonquin Round Table, of online wordplay and games that can be found on that social media outlet. Perhaps you’ve seen these games, in which people follow the instruction given in a catchy hashtag, like hashtag (which is this symbol: #) “Add A Word Ruin A Movie.” As in: #AddAWordRuinAMovie. And then a participant, me let us say, will snarkily add a word to a famous movie title to ironically change the entire complexion of the movie. “Midnight in the Olive Garden of Good and Evil” is one that I love but can not claim credit for.

One day last year, the wit-fest of hashtag joking, the hive mind of Twitter intellect, had come up with #DrabFilms, and this was my contribution, and it was met with universal silence:

Not one single re-Tweet on there. Not one “favorite.” Bupkiss.

There is little in the world sadder or lonelier than a one-liner delivered to no one in a crowded room crammed with people ignoring the joke-maker’s contributions. “If a Tweet falls in a forest,” someone philosophically minded might ask, “with no one to re-Tweet it, did it make a sound? Nay, did it even exist?” (There are a handful of congressmen who might have their own answers to this question.)

“I Tweet, therefore I know that I am doing what I told you I am doing once I tell you what I am doing because others tell me that they say that they approve.”

Do I know what I am doing, where I have been, where I am going, who I am with—who I am, even?—without social verification, approval, disapproval, a certain number of thumbs-ups or stars or re-Tweets?

The American corporate world introduced the idea of measuring everything many decades ago but in the late 1990s employees discovered that their continued employment was dependent on finding new ways to measure everything. I remember my revulsion upon hearing the word “metrics” used in a sentence the first time. (For months, I heard the ghost-word “system” every time I heard “metric.”) The precise sentence was, “We are using all available metrics,” and I quickly noticed that no one else at the meeting table was laughing and they were still scribbling notes more furiously than students in a freshman philosophy seminar. For a while, the number of documents I was actively working on was my key metric, I was told by my employer. Then it was the total number of pages. It changed, often, but the accumulated number of metrics used to measure my metrics was never itself added up and counted. For a year or two I was publishing the average number of pages per document completed. Then it was pages per document per day.

Some time after that one, I was let go. A bad attitude has no metrics.

The social media revolution was long in coming and I enjoy it very much, but metrics have infiltrated our lives, even our fun-filled social lives. “How many ‘likes’ did that get?” Does my employment hinge on it? No? Why does it feel like it does?

When a celebrity or otherwise important person finds him or herself in an online controversy, the number of re-Tweets of the news-worthy posting is supplied in news accounts about the contretemps. The fact that a number is available and can be reported does not make it a statistic, much less a statistic worth reporting.

Sadly, I find myself watching the likes and numbers of visits to this web site right here, the one in your hands, every night. “The Gad About Town” is not my employment, it is something I want to do and share. But the fine people at WordPress make the information so easy to find and digest. It is information after all and it looks like an impressive collection of live statistics and it makes me want to have a boss to report it to every night. (So I Tweet it out sometimes, to attract more readers.) “This number of visitors read my work last night, but it is a smaller number tonight. Whycome is that, world?” Sad face.

(Sigh.) Metrics.

Never before in my life have I known how many friends I have, but if I wanted to, I could look and see every morning if the number of my online friends is larger or smaller than yesterday’s. Metrics.

Am I my numbers? Am I my metrics of me? Everything in the world can be counted, and that number can be known and disclosed, but more often than not this one fact does not make it information.
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The WordPress Daily Prompt for October 1 asks, “To be, to have, to think, to move—which of these verbs is the one you feel most connected to? Or is there another verb that characterizes you better?” I Tweet.