Marre de l’indignation [fr]

[en] Outrage fatigue.

L’indignation (“outrage” en anglais, attention, faux ami) est ce qui fait tourner Facebook, malheureusement. C’est l’émotion qui “marche” le mieux, nous fait partager, réagir, revenir. Facebook est une plateforme dont les algorithmes sont optimisés pour “l’engagement” (un autre faux ami), c’est-à-dire notre investissement en temps et en interactions avec la plate-forme. Likes, partages, commentaires: tout est bon à prendre.

En 2002, j’écrivais Blog provoc’, parce que j’avais repéré cette tendance sur les blogs de l’époque. On écrit pour faire réagir l’autre. Sur facebook, les contenus qui “marchent” le mieux, à savoir qui font réagir et revenir sur la plateforme, ce sont aussi les contenus qui titillent l’autre, le provoquent, l’indignent.

Quand quelqu’un poste exprès un contenu qui vise à faire réagir émotionnellement autrui, de façon négative, afin de se nourrir de son attention et de son énergie, on l’appelle un troll.

Les algorithmes des médias sociaux sont malheureusement optimisés pour les trolls, ou le type de contenu que pourrait poster un troll.

Heureusement, il n’y a pas que ça. Il y a de très belles choses dans les médias sociaux. L’entraide, par exemple. Des amitiés qui se créent. Rester en contact avec les vies de ceux qu’on aime, ou qu’on aimerait mieux connaître. Ou juste rire, ou apprendre quelque chose d’intéressant ou d’utile.

Mais là au milieu, il y a tout ce contenu “qui marche” trop bien, qui active en nous des compulsions, qui nous fâche et au final, qui nous fait nous sentir moins bien.

Si vous voulez vous émouvoir de tous les maux du monde, Facebook est l’endroit idéal. 24h/24, 7 jours sur 7, vous pouvez vous indigner à bon marché: pour l’état de la planète, la politique, les animaux maltraités, la connerie des gens, et même des choses qui ne sont pas vraies, tant l’intox (oui, on avait déjà un nom pour ça avant “fake news”) se plaît dans cet environnement à fleur de peau et à clics de souris.

Non, je ne prône pas l’abandon de Facebook. C’est utopique et ça ne règle pas le problème de fond. Mais un peu de recul, oui. Comprendre les réglages qui vous permettent de gérer un peu vos données privées. Comprendre les mécanismes qui nous font revenir encore et encore. Développer son esprit critique pour avoir une chance de repérer les intox, même (surtout!) celles qui racontent une histoire qui nous plaît. Savoir se désengager. Choisir ses combats, et ne pas gaspiller son indignation juste parce que quelqu’un a partagé quelque chose. Choisir d’agir vraiment sur le monde, au lieu de juste sentir.

More blogging in the world? [en]

Originally meant as a comment on the post Back to the Blog by Dan Cohen.

Over the years (quite some years ago) I ran a handful of “back2blog” challenges, to try and get people writing on their blogs again. They worked, but once the challenge was over, we all folded back into Facebook.

I’ve been writing more on my blog these last six months or so. One thing that helped me was to try and go back to the early days of pre-social-media blogging, when I’d write much shorter pieces than the essay-like ones. I realised that one of the things that made me write things that could very well have been blog posts on facebook rather than on my blog was that I had come to see blog posts as “articles”, complete with a proper title, appropriate categories and tags, and to make it worse, as I’m bilingual, a short summary of what I was writing in my “other language”.

To do that, I started posting things as “asides” — a post type WordPress provides with for somewhat lesser content. I also decided that my 45-minute commute on the train was more than enough time to crank out a quick post, and when I’m not travelling with colleagues, I really make an effort to write stuff.

I really believe that unless Facebook et al backpedal in making their platforms less addictive (cf. Clay Shirky’s segment in this OTM episode) we are definitely going to see people falling back on their blogs.

Now let me go and find a no-nonsense-no-frills newsreader so I can subscribe to Dan’s blog.

Blogging and Facebook [en]

[fr] Réflexion sur la place du blog, de facebook, et de la solitude.

Not 20 years ago. But not yesterday either.

My number of blogging years is going to start to look like 20. Well, 18 this summer, but that looks an awful lot like 20 around the corner. My old Quintus is not quite as old as this blog.

We all know that blogging before Twitter and Facebook was quite different from what it is now. “Social Media” made blogging seem tedious, and as we became addicted to more easily available social interaction, we forgot to stop and write. Some of us have been hanging in there. But most of those reading have left the room: consumption is so much easier in the click-baity world of Facebook.

Facebook didn’t invent click-bait. I remember the click-bait postings and the click-bait blogs, way back when. When the nunber of a comments on a post were an indicator of a blog’s success, and therefore quality, and therefore of the blogger’s worth. And then we lost Google Reader. Not that I was ever a huge user of any kind of newsreader, but many were. So Twitter and Facebook, our algorithm machines, became the sources to lead us to blog postings, and pretty much everything else we read.

As the current “delete Facebook” wave hits, I wonder if there will be any kind of rolling back, at any time, to a less algorithmic way to access information, and people. Algorithms came to help us deal with scale. I’ve long said that the advantage of communication and connection in the digital world is scale. But how much is too much?

Facebook is the nexus of my social life right now. But I’ve always viewed my blog as its backbone, even when I wasn’t blogging much. This blog is mine. I control it. It’s less busy than my facebook presence, to the point where I almost feel more comfortable posting certain things here, in a weird “private by obscurity” way, even though this is the open internet. But the hordes are not at the doors waiting to pounce, or give an opinion. Comments here are rare, and the bigger barrier to entry is definitely a feature.

I’ve found it much easier to write here since I decided to stop caring so much, stop putting so much energy in the “secondary” things like finding a catchy or adequately descriptive title (hey Google), picking the right categories, and tagging abundantly. All that is well and good, except when it detracts from writing. It makes wading through my posts more difficult, I’m aware of that. But oh well.

During my two-week holiday, I didn’t disconnect completely. That wasn’t the point. But I definitely pulled back from social interaction (online and off, it was a bit of a hermit fortnight). I spent more time alone, more time searching for boredom. I checked in on the little francophone diabetic cat group I manage, as well as FDMB, a little. I checked my notifications. I posted a little. But I didn’t spend that much time going through my feed.

And you know what? After a week or ten days or so, my facebook feed started giving me the same feeling as daytime TV. Or cinema ads. I stopped watching TV years ago. I watch the odd movie or series, but I’m not exposed to the everyday crap or ads anymore. And when I go to the cinema, the ads seem so stupid. I’m not “in there” anymore. This mild deconnection gave me a sense of distance with my facebook newsfeed that I was lacking.

I caught myself (and still catch myself) diving in now and again. Scroll, scroll, like, scroll, like, tap, scroll, like, comment, scroll, scroll, scroll. What exactly am I doing here, keeping my brain engaged when I could be doing nothing? Or something else? I think my holiday gave me enough of a taste of how much I need solitude and doing-nothingness that I now feel drawn to it.

I’m not leaving Facebook. But if it were to disappear, I’d survive. I’d regroup here, read more blogs, listen to more podcasts (hah!). It helps that I’m looking at my immediate and medium-term professional future as an employee. And that I’ve recently experienced that forum-based communities could be vibrant, and in some ways better than Facebook groups.

Méditation pendulaire [fr]

Je reprends le travail après deux semaines de vacances. Oh, bien sûr, j’aurais bien prolongé mes vacances, surtout qu’il y a encore plein de neige. Mais bon, il ne va pas faire beau cette semaine.

Je reprends le travail le coeur plutôt léger: j’ai laissé mes affaires en ordre avant de partir, j’aime ce que je fais, et peut-être un peu bête à dire, j’aime aussi mon salaire. L’idée qu’il faut avoir manqué de quelque chose pour l’apprécier ne sort pas de nulle part.

Je médite toutefois sur l’occupation de mon temps. En semaine, j’en ai peu. 12 heures loin de la maison, même si ma squatteuse semble avoir vidé les lieux et que mes besoins en matière de sommeil redeviennent raisonnables, ça ne laisse pas des masses de temps pour vivre hors du week-end et des vacances.

Rien d’extraordinaire, je sais, vous autres qui vivez à ce rythme depuis des années haussez les sourcils en disant “ben ouais quoi”. J’ai conscience d’avoir eu pendant dix ans une qualité de vie vraiment privilégiée, au niveau de mon emploi du temps. Beaucoup de liberté. Ça se payait par ailleurs, mais maintenant que l’equation est renversée, ça me travaille. Je me dis que c’est important d’aimer ce qu’on fait (un minimum), vu le temps qu’on y passe. D’être dans un environnement qui nous convient.

En ce qui me concerne, clairement, il y a ces 2.5 heures par jour que je passe en transit. Ça, sérieusement, je m’en passerais bien. Ça me permet d’écrire, de bouquiner, de m’ennuyer ou de discuter avec mes collègues pendulaires, mais franchement, je préférerais faire ça sur mon balcon avec le chat sur les genoux ou sur une terrasse ou lors d’un restau à midi.

Ayant toujours été très libre de mon temps, je n’ai jamais pris la peine de beaucoup l’organiser. Oh, quand même, mais je pouvais laisser la part belle à l’improvisation. Maintenant que mes heures sont plus rares, je me rends compte qu’un peu de planification peut me permettre de mieux en faire ce que je veux. (Je n’aime pas “profiter”.)

Alors je réfléchis, je regarde mon calendrier, je commence à planifier mes week-ends, et aussi mon peu de soirées. Il ne faut pas attendre d’avoir envie de faire les choses qu’on a envie de faire. Il faut les agender. Alors j’agende. Je regarde comment me simplifier la vie pour monter plus facilement au chalet, par exemple.

Tout ça peut vous sembler bien naïf, à vous qui vivez la vie d’employé depuis des années voire des décennies. Eh oui, je découvre. Mais je vous rassure (enfin vous ne vous inquiétez peut-être pas!) — durant mes dix ans à mon compte j’ai appris à faire face à un tas d’autres choses qu’une vie d’employé ne met pas forcément sur son chemin.

Au final, on apprend tous à bien faire ce qu’on fait, et à bien vivre la vie qu’on vit…

 

Chercher l’ennui [fr]

Oui, vous avez bien lu. Chercher l’ennui. Il ne s’agit pas de le chasser, mais de le chercher, volontairement.

L’ennui est une denrée rare dans le monde d’aujourd’hui. Il suffit d’un doigt sur un écran pour qu’il s’évapore. Le cerveau toujours occupé, toujours en route, toujours en interaction. Toujours des choses qui entrent et qui sortent.

Ce qu’il faut, c’est du temps pour tourner à vide.

Alors moi, je vais chercher l’ennui. Ce n’est pas la première fois que j’en parle, et je vois bien que je commence à vous ennuyer avec mon histoire d’ennui. Je le cherche, par exemple, sur les pistes.

Ça paraît triste de dire ça, je sais, mais non, en fait c’est pas triste du tout.

Je skie seule, le cadre est magnifique (quand le brouillard ne nous empêche pas de savoir dans quel sens on avance, ou même si on avance), je bouge… mais au bout d’un moment, je sens une certaine agitation des neurones: j’en ai marre.

L’hiver dernier, et celui d’avant, quand j’en avais marre, j’arrêtais. Maintenant, je me délecte de cette sensation d’inutile, de non-productif, de cerveau qui part en vadrouille dans des endroits complètement imprévus. Je reste encore, une fois que j’ai trouvé l’ennui, je reste en je prends encore une fois le télésiège pour aller le chercher, encore, parce que je sais à quel point il me glissera toujours entre les doigts, une fois de retour au chalet, une fois de retour dans ma vie.

Et vous, où cherchez-vous l’ennui?

At the Chalet for Two Weeks [en]

[fr] Au chalet pour deux semaines. Pas mal de réflexions sur où j'en suis.

I’m at the chalet for two weeks. I brought Erica. Last time I came I left her at eclau, and she fell ill, and my neighbours had to scramble to get her to the vet. I was ill too. I figured for two weeks it was worth it. She and Quintus still don’t really know each other, as she lives outside and at eclau, and he lives upstairs in the flat and only comes outside for a few minutes at a time, with me. But they’ve “seen” each other (quotes as Quintus is blind). There was growling and hissing early on, and then I prevented contact for a bit. Lately, when Erica comes to say hello to Quintus, he hasn’t growled or hissed. She’s cool. He’s old and lame and suspicious. So, maybe I’ll introduce them at the chalet. If it doesn’t go well, Erica can stay downstairs and outside, and Quintus upstairs. Quintus doesn’t go downstairs anyway.

I wasn’t planning on writing so much about the cats.

I’m at the chalet, for two weeks. My first real holiday since becoming gainfully employed. My previous two attempts at holidaying failed because of my friend giardia lamblia. I’ve been feeling slowly better these last two weeks. My last test came back negative. There’s more to write about this whole story. I don’t know if I’m relieved or more worried. It could in theory be a false negative, unless giardia in humans behaves fundamentally differently in humans than in cats and dogs. The doctor says a false negative is very unlikely, but I haven’t had a chance to confront him to the vet lab instructions linked above. More likely, what I’ve been seeing over the last month could be a post-infection GI disorder. I still haven’t tried introducing dairy back into my diet. I’m keeping a journal now, trying to figure out if I can link certain foods to the symptoms I still have (mainly gas, mild cramps, discomfort — more and more intermittent). I do not want to have IBDIBS, so I’m resisting cutting out gluten to see if it makes a difference, in a futile attempt to make it not that. I’m pretty sure it’s not that, having not noticed an obvious link between wheat and symptoms. But clearly, when I stick to rice and meat, things are pretty good.

I wasn’t planning on writing so much about my digestive woes.

So, here I am at the chalet, for two weeks, on vacation. A vacation as an employee or as a self-employed person feels pretty different. I managed to wrap up everything at work before heading out. Nothing can “happen” during my holidays. When you’re freelance, you can always get that phone call for a dream gig during your holidays, and chances you’re going to pick up the phone and talk with the client. The flexibility one gets as an independent goes both ways: more freedom when working, but less “getting completely away” when you’re not. At least, I never really managed to, except with the week I’d take in the south of France with my martial arts school, pretty much completely offline.

So, speaking of offline. One of my aims during this holiday is to disconnect. Not completely, but largely. This autumn I realised I was suffering from burnout. Starting work has been a lifesaver, because it reduced my mental load dramatically. All I needed to do was worry about waking up in the morning and catching my train. My working hours were long (factor in commuting) but the job itself was actually relaxing compared to my freelance life — particularly on the mental load front. I love my job. My job and I are a great match. I like doing what I do and am good at it. I have good relationships with my colleagues. I have a lot of autonomy, enough stimulation, and appreciation. It’s given me hope for my future and my ability to earn a living.

But aside from work, and aside from the fact I’ve been ill for nearly three months, I can still feel the effects of burnout. I read a book that was very helpful when I figured out what was going on. And it made me realise, more even than I had before, how important it is to have downtime. To do nothing. When I was playing Ingress a lot, I realised that was the problem: I had completely emptied my life of any kind of downtime. And looking back, when I ended up on sick leave for four months in my first year of teaching, that was probably some variety of burnout.

A few links, by me and others:

In addition to the issue around technology, there is social interaction. I mentioned it already in passing, and it’s something I’m thinking a lot about these days. I am a helper/fixer (I don’t know if there is a typology around that, but whatever). Many of my relationships revolve around helping others, particularly in times of crisis. I tend to put others first. Their needs before mine.

Even with my cats, sometimes. When I was trying to get Quintus’s diabetes under control, I realised that the “caring” component of our relationship had taken over all the rest. All my interactions with him had become medical, to the point of becoming obsessive. Thinking back to when Tounsi was ill, there was some of that too. It’s even more marked with humans. I’m the opposite of the fair-weather friend: I’m there during the crisis, but don’t seem very good at maintaining relationships when things are going well.

I’m giving this for context: I’m involved a lot in helping others online, and I feel this double draw of a) fleeing my downtime, and b) wanting contact above all else, pulling me towards a screen when I would actually “want” to be doing something else. (Like eating. Or sleeping. Or watching a TV series. Or simply, something for me rather than for others.)

And so I catch myself: right, I want to check Facebook/FDMB/whatever — but then, what will I do? Will I not go and eat to answer somebody? Will I put off going to bed? Will I give up on relaxing in front of the TV or going for a little stroll with Quintus because somebody needs my help?

It’s good to be altruistic. But in the era of connectedness, there is no limit to how much time you can spend on others rather than yourself.

So, my aim is to spend my holidays on myself. I’ve brought colouring books, my Kindle, my photos to sort through, and I might do a little work on CTTS, like incorporating all the blog posts I wrote for what was then the Open Ears blog, back when I was managing it for Phonak (yay, they seem to have fixed the formatting issues that made the blog posts pretty much unreadable after they migrated to the new platform!)

A bunch of links [en]

A few links I picked up.

The war to sell you a mattress is an internet nightmare

My thoughts about this aren’t quite coherent, because it comes and hits right where I had some ambivalence about a category of work I did over the last decade. Not so much because I wasn’t comfortable with what I was doing, but because I could see it was somewhere on a spectrum where things, at some point, became unethical.

The mattress story is way far out there for me.

But where is the breaking/tipping point? Where does building a community of fans or ambassadors, or simply seeking them out to solidify a brand or organization’s relationship with them, veer into “buying influence”?

I had the first really bad sniff of this when early bloggers started getting paid to do promotional postings.

I suspect the answer has something to do with scale. If an influencer can make or break a business, then he is part of that business and that relationship should be absolutely transparent. Or is my reasoning too simplistic? I long for one of these slow blog-to-blog discussions on the topic.

The world’s most expensive free watch

Welcome to the world of dropshipping, affiliate marketing, and the rest. The world of people making a pile of money online teaching people to make a pile of money online by selling stuff. Only the people teaching you how to do it are making money off the teaching, not the “selling other stuff”.

This stinks.

I had a whiff of it last summer, when I realised that one of the (multiple) reasons my freelance business had been going under was that I hated sales and sucked at it. So I decided to look at what a bunch of these online marketers were doing. I took some free webinars. Subscribed to newsletters. Watched them sell.

And of course, googled them. Despite all they tell you, and the lucky incident, they’re making their money promising to tell you how to make money. Most people will spend quite a bit of cash on courses, and not find success, because, well, luck. And a broken business model.

I shared a bunch of interesting articles I unearthed through my googling on Facebook at the time. I might try and dig them out, or you can try your luck at googling too.

De l’exploitation en milieu fermier écolo

In French, but worth sticking in Google Translate if you don’t speak the language. Remember how people got all annoyed (me included, at times) when “crowdfunding” became a way to cut costs and get people to do work for your profitable business for free?

Well, look no further if you want to see how so-called “sustainable” agricultural methods work. Not the serious ones, which use science to minimise the amounts of pesticides and fertiliser we need. I’m talking about the “organic” and “natural” lobbies and movements, often headed by guru-like figures like Pierre Rabhi. Wwoofing, anybody? Or how to make your unsustainable farming practice sustainable by exploiting free labour.

I’m annoyed that people aren’t more appalled by these practices, simply because they profit businesses which are ethically aligned with their ideology.

Go ahead, Millenials, destroy us

This one is encouraging. When I start despairing about where the world is going, which is quite often these days (and a new thing to me — 45 getting elected changed that), I remember that there are young people growing up to run the world, and that they might do things completely differently from us. It gives me hope. I’m looking forward to meeting them.

To end on a light note, read Kirk Drift if you like Star Trek. I recently started watching the original series (before my android TV box died) and though it was fun, I was having a really hard time with the cultural gap — both in terms of screenplay, assumed character psychology, and of course, sexism. Somebody pointed me to the excellent article I just linked to, and it made me watch the series completely differently. I find Kirk way less annoying. And the miniskirts (I hadn’t realised that at the time they were the symbol of women claiming their power! talk about judging something from another time by today’s standards…)

Je dors [fr]

…trop.

Franchement, je pourrais me demander si ma copine n’accompagne pas la maladie du sommeil. Je fais des nuits de passé 8h, à la chaîne, et je me réveille comme si un camion m’avait passé dessus. Avec 12h par jour environ loin de la maison, c’est vraiment mode survie. Je rentre, et en fait je pourrais aller me mettre au lit tout de suite. CFF, boulot, dodo. Mais je me fais quand même un truc à manger, hein.

Bref, heureusement que les chats vont bien, juste là. (Enfin, il reste des investigations à faire pour Erica mais elle est stable et semble OK côté symptômes.)

Alors, what next? La balle est dans mon camp. On va refaire des analyses histoire d’être sûrs qu’on passe pas à côté d’un truc, que la giardia n’est pas l’arbre qui cache la forêt. J’essaie d’attendre un peu depuis la fin de mon dernier traitement (début février) histoire d’être sûrs que si l’analyse est positive, elle est vraiment positive, et que ce n’est pas des “traces” de l’infection précédente. Je me rends compte que je n’ai pas suffisamment d’infos sur les faux positifs par PCR pour savoir à quel point c’est vraiment utile d’attendre.

Mais bon, là, de toute façon, je ne peux pas continuer très longtemps comme ça. Sans compter que je suis supposée partir en vacances dans deux semaines, et on sait tout comment ça se passe, les vacances, quand on est malade pendant qu’on travaille mais qu’on “tient bon”.

Donc, aujourd’hui, c’est le jour où je rappelle le médecin pour dire que “ça ne va plus”.

(Je précise que si j’avais voulu, il m’aurait donné un traitement quand j’ai appelé la semaine dernière. C’est moi qui me sentais assez bien pour continuer à attendre.)

What I’m Good At [en]

[fr] Un petit point sur mes compétences professionnelles, telles que je suis en train de les comprendre grâce à mon emploi actuel. Moins de digital, plus de relationnel et de systèmes!

Having an “employed” job has been extremely rewarding so far. Yes, the commute is tiring, but I’ve been really lucky regarding work atmosphere, colleagues, the project I’m working on, and the view from the office. Not kidding about the view:

Over the last months I’ve learned/confirmed a few things about myself regarding what I do well/like doing jobwise.

People
I like interacting with people, preferably 1-1. I’m good at listening, getting people on board, establishing a relationship.

Complexity
I love figuring out complex systems or situations with lots of moving parts.

Facilitation
I’m good at looking at things from various points of view and taking multiple interests into account when looking for solutions.

Doing
Day-to-day operations are not what I prefer, but when it comes to making things happen, implementing change, making a project move forward, here I am.

Learning & Networking
The two go together. I’m a fast learner, so I’m quick to absorb new information (even in a completely new field), identify and connect with key people.

Workflows
I like understand how things work and fit together, and I’m good at seeing “gaps” where things could be done differently, either better for the people involved, or more rational for the organisation, particularly (but not limited to) around digital transformation.

There might be more, or different/better ways to put this, but I thought I’d throw this out there already.

One thing I love about being employed, and that I had lost on the way during my freelance years, is the feeling of being really appreciated and valued. I really needed it.

Survival Mode [en]

[fr] Ça va. Mais je suis fatiguée. Vive le week-end.

Last week-end was my first week-end in a long time where I wasn’t sick, worried sick about a cat, or rushing a cat to the vet.

Quintus is in remission from his diabetes and doing well. If you have a diabetic cat, join FDMB.

Erica had an acute episode of something gastro-intestinal (pancreatitis? tummy bug? something else?) on a background of something chronic. She’s over the acute episode and we are (without urgency) investigating the chronic condition.

I probably still have my unwelcome host but by cutting out dairy completely I can keep the worst of the symptoms at bay and remain functional while we continue our investigations with the specialist doc.

My hip still bothers me a bit but my blocked back is clearly linked to the giardia digestive issues.

I’m tired. Work is going well. I’m trying to regain my balance. My brain needs down time.

I am trying to focus more on me and less on always being there for others above all. The realisation that my urge to help others first and foremost is something I need to learn to channel is becoming more and more acute. This article framing compulsive use of technology as “addiction to social interaction” really rings true for me.

So, more down time. More alone time. More energy invested in things I want to feel more motivated and enthusiastic about. Silly things like making my flat a place I really enjoy spending time in. Cleaning. Tidying. Just doing nothing. I’m looking forward to being able to ski and do judo, I really miss moving.

Two OTM podcast episodes to listen to for you:

  • Blame it on the Alcohol: interesting perspective on alcohol across the ages and borders (France vs. US for example), and a welcome critique of the ubiquitous AA in American culture, how Hollywood promoted it and labeled abstinence the one and only “cure”, despite the 12-step programme being anything but successful by any measure as a solution to excessive drinking. (No disrespect to my meeting-going friends.)
  • The Safety Net Just Got a Little Less Safe: back to the 2016 series busting poverty myths. How the current system pushes people into poverty, and a poignant account of how it can happen, by a mother who got evicted after being a victim of a crime on the property the family were renting.

Happy listening. I’m going to put the tech away and stare out of the train window.