Appearances, Apparitions, & Aspirations

So here I am in month three of 2016.

This also marks the third month of generally ignoring Facebook feeds. Not having it on my phone means I spend time doing other things. Wasn’t as hard as I thought to stop. I’ve now spending more time back exploring forums and websites that specifically interest me and not what interests others.

Just having come back from another successful Wigan Beer Festival, I went on to check for photos for the festival page, but there’s one poster I’m still waiting for before I complete the album. It started a train of thoughts.

I have to be honest, I have been using Twitter – but at least there (for now) I can filter by type of account. And I’ve so far avoided any annoying decisions of what I see. I’m not anti-social media. I just don’t think a lot of it is very social, or rewarding.

It’s just began to feel like a lot of like-minded people interacting only with the people they already agree with. So much so that to step outside any particular groups accepted norms leads to bombastic rebuttals – a new version of the forum problems of flame wars & trolling I remember from years ago.

I really don’t even believe half of the consequences of social media feed contents is intentional from the point of view of the end users. I won’t even touch the “if you don’t re-post this” or “sign this to change …” What I actually do when I actually interact with people one on one makes more difference to me. It’s also far more rewarding.

But most of the social media spam – even on Twitter – seems to be bandwagon jumping, maybe springing from that individual need to find a collective, or even be the leader of a collective.

I’ve also come to realise that the majority of the social media posts I see are either clickbait, approval seeking, or shame posting. Like any new technology there is an initial phase, a boom, a settle, and then eventually a change to something else.

Mostly however, for me, I think it boils down to differing end user expectations.

As many friends know I do a lot of beer research, and like our fingerprints, all out taste buds are different. But I have been using an app called Untappd to help me try and track it all. Even then I try really hard not to use it when out with other people – as that just distracts from to real social activity. Luckily my other half is a smoker, so I often get some solo time to top up.

It now has a scoring system with many fractions between 0 and 5. But I’ve done retained my own stepping system.

0 Can’t score. (Usually some style or mix I don’t get – i.e. peanuts!)

0.5 Off!? Infected/Vinegar?? Service or dispense issues?

1 Malt Water, What’s the point of this sugar water?

1.5 Flat, Over Oxidised, Warm. Service or dispense issues?

2 Meh. Just doesn’t satisfy me in any way, lacking.

2.5 Drinks as sold. It does everything I’d expect. Well made & good condition.

3 Nice. Try it? Definitely finishing this one, may have another.

3.5 Try it! Talking about this to other people.

4 Having another. Encouraging people to try it.

4.5 Try mine. Giving tastes from my glass or buying you one.

5 Hands off! I want it ALLLLL!!!!

I’m lucky (or sad) enough to have seen numerous beer judging and scoring systems. I’m not scoring on beer style. I’m scoring on my reaction at the time, on the day, to that beer in that glass. As I’m doing this I often see other people giving wildly different scores to me. I also don’t even log online anything below a 2. And I’m OK with that.

What surprises me is the amount of fanboy-ism over certain beers or brewers. Do some people score based on what other people scored? To share or tweet what everyone else is also sharing? Is it a need to be part of the ‘cool’ crowd? I see this behaviour less on Twitter than it was all over Facebook, but it’s still there. I accept that people share. I encourage discussion and so sharing is part of this.

I’ve even had some very amusing responses online, and some concerned ones from brewers which was not my intention. And a one particularly aggressive one. So I’ll have to try and be more understanding that people online won’t have the same motives as me, and they can do what they want just like I can.

Sadly, and this is ironic considering what I am doing here, the internet has often become a space to rant, to object, to ridicule, and to be very abusive & threatening. Would you stand for someone in your vicinity shouting and screaming at someone who is pleasantly minding their own business in real life?

To go back to my beer scoring example, I am not trying to assert that these beers are the best. Just that they are my best. Or are interesting, or I can see why they are made, but they aren’t for me.

I’m only one man. But I have opinions, and I think people should be allowed opinions. But when it comes to matters of personal tastes – not ethics or facts – then why do people get so animated online, and yet face to face are so different? Before they post a rant or abusive response online have they considered whether they would do that face to face?

May I turn this on its head?

So I and my better half run a bar, and often we get many positive comments online, and face to face. Which is really nice, and makes it all worthwhile. Last night we even won a quite a few awards. Which is honestly super nice that people care enough to do that. And one of the award speeches actually made me blush.

Why?

Mostly because we do what we do in the pub because we care, and we and trying to do the best of what we know to do. And we try to develop ourselves and the pub as best we can. We try to take care of the individual reactions with individuals. For me this is the only influence I have over the reality I live in. And we don’t always get it right. But it’s nice to see our passions appreciated. It also takes a lot more effort to be constructive and supportive of things we like in the real world, than it is just to be negative or off-hand.

So why do some people then do nothing face to face, but only go online and post an opinion piece about how they totally disapprove, but never speak to us face to face? I’m not against feedback. But there’s a massive difference between “not one for me”, and “it’s awful”.

And that’s the rub with online posting.

The shorter it is the harder it is to gauge overall intention, meaning, and context of what you see.

On a related diversion, I have spent a week at a volunteer run beer festival, and here’s a real world example of what I mean about the problems of online posting.

There’s lots of reference to ‘staff’ as in ‘paid worker’ and that radically influences how people treat others and themselves. Change that word to ‘volunteer’ as in ‘giving time & effort freely and willing’ and a whole other world of behavioural options opens up.

While I appreciate the need to share opinions and interesting articles online, why not go out into the real world and act on those principle? Join a movement, write a letter, make a monetary donation, challenged someone’s opinion with some respect and not ridicule, or just shop elsewhere.

I don’t I think I can control how I am seen, but I’m trying not to fight ghosts & goblins of my own making. And instead of trying to change the world I’m trying to focus on changing and developing me. And I will always respect someone’s desire to do things differently to me. Because why would anyone do anything they didn’t think they was the best they could do?

I just don’t think social media site feeds are going to be taking up much of my time any more. It’s now more like skimming a newspaper to get some context about what is going on in the world. It just isn’t my world. It’s just a tool. It’s not a lifestyle.

To Do:

Complete Post Festival Notes and Planning
Finish last kitchen window tiles
Order furniture

To Plan:

Garage Wall Rebuild
Garden Landscaping
External Wiring

Upcoming:

Sheffield Beer X
Trip to Southport
Trip to Manchester