Debating

Universalism, and the theology of Hell — with a fellow Christian, in our Bible study WhatsApp group.

Better working conditions for video game developers, complexities of crunch time and entertainment industry, and how fans and consumers should respond (without falling into impotent idealism or callous fatalism) — with some fellow gamers, in a Discord server.

Sundry aspects of Internet culture and digital life — with various Micro.bloggers on Micro.blog.

It’s been a good week for online debating and discussion. More remarkably, all were in semi-public spaces, all were low-salt and stayed that way, and ended with us shaking hands, regardless of whether we agreed or not.

I’m so pleased! Such diverse, civil debates!

Contemplating a timeline and the value of online presence.

I’ve been wondering how to bring humanity back into the act of Following Someone on Social Media, to add (or perhaps, recover?) that sense of “getting to know you” that comes when meeting a person in the flesh. So far, I’ve been sending “calling card” @’s to people whom I’m following: a greeting, and why I’m following them. I’m no longer idly clicking Follow, but actively approaching someone else to make a connection.

This active engagement with someone else has compelled me to consider the purpose of my timeline. What value and edification is a social media timeline adding to my life? What goods do I want it to add to my life? Therefore, what goods are this particular person’s social media presence adding to my life when I Follow them and allow them to appear on my timeline?

I came onto Micro.blog initially because I was attracted by its (micro)blogging capabilities, and its vision of creating a village in cyberspace. Now, I’m figuring out what this social arm of M.B means to me, how to engage with it, and to what degree I want to engage.

I’m still figuring it out. Not every interesting person I encounter on M.B is someone I necessarily want to Follow. I can always encounter them through Discover, and actively visit their M.B accounts. But Following a person… that is an active step of closer engagement. I’m no longer going to visit their accounts as and when I please, and then leave possibly without saying anything, but allowing them the privilege of pouring their digitized thoughts directly into my timeline and into my life. I value what they think and say. So, the least I could do is send a calling card.

I’m not in a habit of posting links to books/games in my reviews, mostly out of sheer laziness. But, I did put links in my earlier game reviews because they were less familiar names. After giving it some thought, I’ve decided that whenever I link, as much as I can, I will link directly to the author’s or game’s website, instead of to a product page on Amazon/Steam/etc.

I don’t mind that other reviewers link to product pages, but I am not enthused by the thought of doing the same. I suppose I have a subconscious objection to associating my private blog to commercial and impersonal places. Furthermore, those product platforms didn’t create that entertainment, they’re just the middlemen distributing it. But because those platforms are so big, it’s very easy to forget that individuals and people created those works in the first place. So, while I’m thinking of small villages and houses within Internet-as-community, I’m even more determined to decouple creative works from the distributor and reattach it back to the creator by linking their websites whenever I write reviews.

After all, that’s the main way I’ve discovered artists and creative works, primarily through links and recommendations on other people’s websites and blogs. I don’t use Amazon and Steam and other distributors to discover, but rather to corroborate that initial discovery. So I do think they have their place and I appreciate that people put reviews there.

I won’t, though. I’d rather link to creators instead of distributors. Other people who click through to the creator can decide how to support them. And perhaps, discover a new thing for themselves.