We’re just echoing awareness, not creating it.


Pierce Gleeson wrote a short story titled “Four Million Followers” about an unemployed post-grad who starts writing and managing the Twitter page for a popular beverage company called Quark Cola.

More than a soft critique on corporate communication or Twitter, the story examines how our interaction becomes where, “We’re just echoing awareness, not creating it.” This leaves a lot of sad lonely people in the world. You’d think technology could solve a problem like this (*wink).

He was staring listlessly at the incoming tweets one Tuesday afternoon when a message appeared. Hey @quarkcola, I’m going to commit suicide tonight. Thanks for all the sugary memories. The icon next to the tweet was an ordinary self portrait of a young man. He checked the user’s page and found it had been active, intermittently, for more than two years.

He replied with three tweets in quick succession. The first was a link to suicide prevention hotlines in the man’s apparent country. The second: @gregorpegor You need to tell a real person before you do this. Just in case you are confused and they can help. Thirdly, he recommended the man read Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus.

There was no reply in the following days. The user was a very infrequent poster, and so the lack of follow up could not be considered proof of anything. He informed Samantha about the incident, and she submitted it to the legal team, who advised him to forget it, but to ignore all such entreaties in future. The very act of responding to such a message made you an active participant in what followed. Were a user to later kill themselves, then their family could potentially claim damages against Quark Cola for its interference. A non-reply could reasonably be interpreted as an unseen message, and would as such clear Quark Cola of any potential liability.

Two weeks later, during which he often agonised over his replies to the suicide announcement, he received a direct message from the user…

Facebook is the tool which represent the past (ie. yesterday’s pictures, last month’s vacation, that one crazy night, etc.) while Twitter represent the consciousness of the present. This is one reason why Twitter is utilized to analyze an audience reaction to a television show or a politician’s speech.

After Obama’s State of the Union address Florida Sen. Marco Rubio gave his rebuttal and took an awkward pause to drink from a Poland Springs bottle of water. The Poland Springs marketing department must not exist. While Twitterverse blew up with memes and jokes, Poland Springs Twitter lay dormant.

Poland Spring Water hasn’t Tweeted since July, 2010. Right now, their rep is frantically trying to remember the password. #PolandSprings

— Jory John (@joryjohn)

Read the story because I imagine you’ll laugh and relate. But then also think about some of the broader implications of what it means to @reply, hashtag, and direct message. They’re more than ways of living or learning or being. And they have little to do with Twitter.

(story found via kottke, image borrowed/manipulated via ffffound)

Also read: A Series on Creativity.

Bereshit Bara Creativity Blog Series: A Glimpse at the First Creative

The Bereshit Bara Creativity Blog Series

…is fast approaching. I’m actually scared about it because the 13 Creatives are sharing with us ideas and stories which challenge my own identity as a Creative.

It’s as if the ground beneath my feet is giving way to nothing. I’m falling and I don’t know when or if or how I’ll land.

I’m torn because these meditations need a much bigger platform than I can offer here at my blog. I’m so grateful these 13 Creatives are sharing with us.

The Creativity Series Opens June 4th

If you have written your own post struggling with the questions I set forth here, please send me the link. I’ll be sharing our community’s posts along with the 13 Creatives. I’ll be linking so it’s a great way to share with us your own blog and to connect with others who share your passion.

I want to just share the whole series with you now, but truthfully it’s too much to handle at once. I’m going to make a request that when you participate in the series, either by reading or commenting or sharing your own post (which I hope you do), that you come with an open mind and heart ready to be pushed and pulled and challenged. Come as a block of clay.

I know that’s a lot to ask. It’s a daunting task, but I think you might be changed through it. I have.

Here’s a teaser image for the first post on June 4th by the poet Elizabeth Myhr. At the end of the week I’ll let you know how you can win a copy of Elizabeth Myhr’s book the vanishings & other poems. (Yes, her book title is purposely spelled in all lower-case. That’s how rockstar she is.)

What Do You Give a Polar Bear?

Food I assume. But that’s risky. Any gift you give a polar bear is risky.

Blogging is gifting and it’s also sacrifice. But what does the blog world need? What kind of a gift? Global warming is affecting the blog world, everyone is innovating, and everyone is telling us how to innovate, how to create and write and socialize. Our land is shrinking, everything is getting smaller while people, real people, seem to be moving farther away.

It’s easy to follow along with the trends. It’s harder to go another direction.

We have to go in another direction.

Wherever that is, it brings us together. Sharing gifts and food and stories and laughs.

We need new forms.

So my question to you: How do we make it better?

Share your thoughts or write a post and send me the link here in the comments or at rossgale4 at gmail dot com.

The New Future to Social Media and Blogging

Brian Andreas thinks social media fragments us more than brings us together. And since we’re all here through a form of social media, I want to examine this room we’re in for just a second and then offer a small solution for what I want to do about it. Because I really want to do something about this:

Being constantly inundated with our social updates tires us out—we’re fatigued and we’re annoyed with each other. Here’s why: while it is true that no one care’s about your trip to Mexico, your weird tastes in music and the dinner that you just made, we still want to be involved. But we hate the self-serving. We’re re-pinning and re-tweeting without context, without collaboration. The Internet will always suffer from social media fatigue until it allows for seamless collaboration among multi-platforms, multi-dimensions, and multi-media. This may be idealistic view but it’s not impossible.

I feel like social media is a dark room in which I throw into it things I like and things I create. And then I expect something to happen. And I get disappointed when nothing happens. I am fatigued with it. I hate having to constantly add new platforms. Pinterest? A Facebook Fan Page? An email newsletter? Those are all things I’m considering adding to my repertoire in order to better “connect”. And I’ll do it. But I won’t like it.

So I’m not doing any of it (except maybe the email newsletter after the summer). None of it at all. I refuse (except that one thing.)

This is what I’m doing instead…

During the summer months because of the “Bereshit Bara” Blog Series on Creativity my writing won’t be featured here as much, which is a good thing because other more talented writers will be. But since I won’t be at the forefront of my own blog I thought it makes the perfect opportunity for a new approach that will keep me writing.

I’ll still write my blog, but instead of posting it here I’ll send it to you on a Postcard.

That’s right, through the mail system. I know it’s sort of old fashion but who doesn’t love receiving mail?

This doesn’t immediately address “seamless collaboration through multi-platforms.” Not yet anyway.

But I want to do better. And not just better writing, but better community building.

And you help me do that.

By writing a Postcard to you it will help focus my attention and force my words to be precise and my heart to be true. I’m not kidding. I’ll get more out of this than you.

If you want into this “Blog by Postcard” then email me your mailing address at rossgale4 at gmail dot com.

I’ll do it until it’s unfeasible, or my wife gets frustrated I’m stealing her stamps, or I’ve got to pay thirty bucks to mail a postcard to Greenland or something similar.

I’ll do it as long as I can really, truly connect and really, truly write well. That will make it worth it and maybe merge the many fragments.