Category Archives: Internet

Goodbye Joseph?

I’ll probably be retiring my website soon (www.josephmreyes.com). I don’t really get so much out of it recently, and quite frankly, it’s more of a temporary repository of my thoughts and art progress than anything else. When I apply to shows, I think people respond more to my CV and the images I send, not really my website. One of the only tangible benefit of having a website is that it exists and the professionalism it suggest. Other than that, there are far better ways to showcase one’s work.

So yeah, I think I’ll just be relying solely on WordPress and Instagram for my web presence sometime soon. Godaddy hasn’t been the best domain host and server either. They are very generous in the beginning, but they add so many costs later on to things that really should be free. If anything, the biggest hassle to giving up my domain would be giving up my email address. Also, it’ll be just a tad more difficult to find me on the Internet. Unless people are looking for me, they won’t know that I exist, which I guess is true for most people in the planet, and I really shouldn’t be an exception.

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On Artists

You are not your job. You are not your relationships. You are not your art either. As much as some artists like to sell their persona as part of their art, it is all bullshit. Only a few people can pull this off. You’re not Warhol. You’re not Dali. Stop it.

너는 너의 직업이 아니요. 너는 너의 관계들이 아니요.너는 너의 예술도 아니요. 일부 예술가는 자신의 페르소나를 예술의 일부로 판매하는 것을 좋아하지만 모두 헛소리요. 소수의 사람만 이것은 할수 있어요. 너는 살바도르 달리가 아니면 멈춰.

Buying a piece of art is not the same as buying a person. A person might be buying a piece of work, but the work should be able to stand on its own, without the artist. Again, I’m talking about artists who are relatively unknown, but I think it’s a mistake to intermingle the personal aspect of social media too much with art. I notice this particularly on Instagram. I think it’s fine to have an art page and have some of your personal life and even development process in your page, but I notice some artists get way too much into themselves and it stops being about the art and more about selling the artist, to which I say, calm down and think first if you really want to do that to yourself. It’s really doing a disservice to your own art and your growth, and probably contributes to perpetuating the image of artists being self-centered attention hounds.

예술품을 사는 것은 사람을 사는 것과는 다라요. 어떤 사람이 예술을 구매할 수도 있지만, 이 예술이 예술가없이 스스로 설 수 있어야해요. 저는 상대적으로 알려지지 않은 예술가들에 대해 이야기하고 있지만 SNS의 개인적인 측면을 예술과 너무 많이 섞는 것은 실수라고 생각해요. 특히 Instagram에서 이것을 발견해요. 아트 페이지를 가지고 있고 너의 개인적인 삶의 일부와 심지어 너의 페이지에 개발 과정을 갖는 것은 괜찮다고 생각해요. 하지만 몇몇 예술가들은 자신에게 너무 깊이 빠져들고 그것이 예술에 관한 것이 아니라 예술가를 판매하는 것에 대해 생각해요. 진정해요. 자신에게 그렇게하고 싶다면 먼저 생각해요. 그것은 정말 너의 예술과 성장에 해를 끼치고 있고 예술가들이 자기 중심적인 이미지를 영속시키는 데 기여할 거요.

One telltale sign of this phenomenon are pictures showing the scale or artworks. Of course this is all just my opinion, but if you want to show the scale of a piece of art and put yourself in the picture, and you take up more real estate than the piece, then maybe the picture on the Instagram page is not about the art at all.

이 현상의 한 가지 분명한 징후는 규모 또는 예술 작품을 보여주는 시진들이에요.물론 이것은 모두 제 의견이요, 하지만 예술의 규모를 보여주고 자신을 그림에 넣고 싶고 예술보다 더 많은 공간을 차지한다면 Instagram 페이지의 그림은 예술에 관한 것이 전혀 아닐 수도 있어요.

The second red flag for me is when I the viewer is constantly informed of the artist’s life and more effort seems to be put on creating the artist’s persona than the art itself. One infamous “artist” in Korea who is no longer in media used to be on TV selling herself as an artist but seems to be more focused on portraying a quirky persona, a dumb and lazy stereotype given to artists. And if one looks up her works, they’re really nothing to write home about. Thankfully, she’s now no longer showing up on television and is so forgotten that her name escapes me.

저에게 두 번째 위험 신호는 시청자가 예술가의 삶에 대해 지속적으로 알리고 예술 자체보다 예술가의 페르소나를 만드는 데 더 많은 노력을 기울이는 거에요. 더 이상 미디어에 출연하지 않는 한국의 한 악명 높은“아티스트”는 예전에는 자신을 아티스트로 판매하는 TV에 출연했지만 아티스트들에게 주어진 멍청하고 게으른 고정 관념 인 기발한 인물을 묘사하는 데 더 초점을 맞춘 것 같아요. 그리고 그녀의 예술을 보면 너는 실망할거에요. 고맙게도 그녀는 이제 더 이상 TV에 나오지 않고 너무 잊혀져 서 그녀의 이름이 기억이 않 와요.

On a similar note, if viewers kept getting reminded of the artist’s condition, be it depression, physical disabilities, or ailments, then I start getting tired, if not irritated. Van Gogh had a very well-established mental condition, but he developed his own style and grew as a post-Impressionist, selling (and at the time failing to sell) his works solely for their merit and not as a byproduct of his illness. Right now, the works stand on their own. We do not need to know he was mentally ill. The same goes with Munch, Goya, and O’Keefe. And while we’re at it, Picasso, Rodin, Michelangelo, Degas, and many others were assholes. But we do not need to know of their assholery to admire their works. The works stand on their own.

마찬가지로, 예술가이 자신의 상태, 우울증, 신체 장애, 질병 등을 계속 시청자에께 상기 시키면 저는 짜증이 나지 않더라도 피곤해지기 시작해요. Van Gogh는 매우 잘 정립 된 정신 상태를 가지고 있었지만 자신의 post-Impressionist 스타일을 개발여 그들의 예술품을 병의 부산물이 아니라 자신의 장점을 위해서만 판매 (하지만 판매하지 못함)했어요. 지금은 그 예술품들이 독자적으로 서 있어요. 그가 정신적으로 아팠다는 것을 알 필요는 없어요. Munch, Goya, O’Keefe도 마찬가지에요. 그리고 우리가 거기에있는 동안 Picasso, Rodin, Michelangelo, Degas 등 많은 사람들이 즘 나빴어요. 그러나 우리는 그들의 예술품에 감탄하기 위해 그들의 나쁜 성격을 알 필요가 없어요. 예술품들이 자체로 서 있어요.

And since we’re talking about asshole artists, I think there’s a difference between enjoying a dead artist’s genius and giving money to a current, living asshole. I think it’s perfectly fine to enjoy the works of dead artists who might have been assholes in the past. It’s the same way one can admire great ancient structures in Europe while completely ignoring about how Europe plundered so much wealth out of so many countries. It’s another thing however to pay for a movie directed by Bryan Singer, Roman Polanski, or Woody Allen. I do love watching the pirated version of “Rosemary’s Baby” however.

그리고 우리는 나쁜 예술가에 대해 이야기하고 있기 때문에, 죽은 예술가의 천재성을 즐기는 것과 현재 살아있는 나쁜 예술가 에게 돈을주는 것에는 차이가 있다고 생각해요. 과거에 나쁜 였을지도 죽은 예술가들의 예술품을 즐기는 것도 괜찮은 것 같아요. 유럽의 위대한 고대 건축물에 감탄할 수있는 것고유럽이 여러 나라에서 얼마나 많은 부를 약탈했는지 완전히 무시하면서. 같은 방식예요. 그러나 Bryan Singer, Roman Polanski 또는 Woody Allen이 감독 한 영화에 대한 비용을 지불하는 것은 또 다른 일이예요. 하지만 “Rosemary’s Baby” 해적판 보는 걸 좋아해요.

The third red flag is something I mentioned in passing. The works simply don’t stand on their own. Taken without the artist in mind, will anyone take notice of it? Does it look amateurish or plain? Not to be insulting here, but elephants can be tortured to paint canvasses. They are very primitive swaths of color, almost like a random accident. But because they are made by tortured elephants, they become something else. Does an artist’s work look average? Is it elevated by the artist’s “story”? Then maybe it’s not about the artwork at all. Now, I love Dada and the idea of found objects and readymades, but their “stories” are concepts which are itself art. I don’t think the everyday life of an artist and their struggles with whatever ails them compares with Dada.

세 번째 신호는 이미 이야기했어요. 그 예술품들은 그 자체로 서 있지 않아요. 예술가 없으면 누가 알아 차 릴까요? 아마추어 같거나 평범 해 보입니까? 여기에서는 모욕적이지 않지만 코끼리는 캔버스를 그리기 위해 고문을 당할 수 있어요. 그들은 거의 우연한 사고처럼 매우 원시적 인 색채요. 그러나 고문당하는 코끼리에 의해 만들어 졌기 때문에 그들은 다른 무언가가되요. 예술가의 예술품이 평균적으로 보입니까? 예술가의 “이야기”로 개선 되었나요? 그렇다면 예술품에 관한 것이 아닐 수도 있어요. Dada와 found objects과 readymades에 대한 아이디어를 좋아하지만 그들의 “이야기”는 그 자체가 예술인 개념에요. 예술가의 일상 생활과 그들이 어떤 병때 투쟁을 Dada와 비교할 수없어요.

So why do I care? Why do I write these things? Because I want you to grow. I want you to look at your work and really evaluate it. If a stranger saw it somewhere, would it be compelling for them or would it be ignored? For what reason should they be staring? Give your audience a reason to stare. Make it about the art and not about yourself. This is why I tend to distrust actors or singers who decide to become artists. Their work can be mediocre but it is immediately elevated by their celebrity, totally separate from any artistic merit of the artwork itself. The only reason people will look at a dumb shoe “made” by Kanye West is that he said he designed it. Forget that they all look dumb compared to other shoes in the market.

그래서 내가 왜 신경을 써야합니까? 왜 이런 것들을 쓰나요? 나는 너를 성장하기를 바라요. 나는 너를 너의 예술품을보고 정말로 평가하기를 바라요. 낯선 사람이 그것을 어딘가에서 본다면, 그것은 그들에게 매력적일까요 아니면 무시 될까요? 그들은 어떤 이유로 쳐다보아야합니까? 청중에게 쳐다보아야할 이유를 제공하세요. 자신에 대한 것이 아니라 예술에 대해 이야기하세요. 예술가되기로 결정한 배우 나 가수를 불신하는 경향이 있어요. 그들의 예술품은 평범 할 수 있지만 예술품 자체의 예술적 장점과는 완전히 별개로 유명인에 의해 즉시 향상되요. 사람들이 Kanye West가 “만든” 멍청한 신발을 보는 유일한 이유는 그가 디자인했다고 말했기 때문에요. 다른 신발에 비해 모두 멍청 해 보인다는 사실을 잊어요.

I think artists need to decide whether they’re selling themselves or their art. Maybe they can be successful at both. It can happen! But often I see people calling themselves artists but are too busy with the art persona and not the art. So yeah, if you’re an artist, start with showing more art and less of your dumb artist face.

에술가들은는 자신의 에술품을 판매하게 아니면 자신의 페르소나를 판매하게 결정해야헤요. 둘 다 성공할 수도 있어요. 그것은 할수 있어요! 그러나 종종 사람들이 스스로를 예술가라고 부르지 만 예술이 아닌 예술가의 인물에 너무 바쁘다는 것을 보에요. 예, 너는 예술가라면 너의 멍청한 예술가 얼굴을 대신에 더 많은 예술을 보여주고 시작하세요.

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A Sinking Ship

Instagram has changed for the worse. Let’s talk about the change in algorithm first. Whoever is in charge of Instagram has decided to make it harder for people to get noticed and get followers. I used to think that it was just me, I thought I had reached a plateau, but then I started seeing complaints from others as well. They’re either not gaining followers, or worse, they’re losing them. When I first started posting regularly, it was not unusual to gain around 100 followers in every week or so. These days, my growth is at a snail’s pace. And with Instagram upgrading me to a creator account, I could see that my engagement and growth is incredibly low. But that’s not all I see. I now constantly see Instagram offering to promote my posts for a price.

I’m guessing Instagram is now pressuring people to pay in order to promote their posts and hopefully see their follower numbers grow. Maybe I’m naive, but these makes me very suspicious of every post I see on “top,” especially if I keep seeing the same account over and over again. Instead of a social network service, it’s turned into a paid commercial service. Users are either being asked to become paid advertisers or deal with other users who are now probably paid advertisers themselves. Add to that the regular advertising users see on their feed.

Of course people are trying to fight back against this trend, asking followers to save their posts, comment, or share to other users, instead of just liking them. These actions are supposed to increase their visibility and allow them to grow. But I don’t know if this will work in the long run. The platform seem quite intent in preventing organic growth. Not to toot my own horn, but I like to think of myself as a pretty decent artist. And when I see someone with mediocre skills get several hundred likes from their tens of thousands of followers, it’s like an ant staring at a mountain. This person probably either boosted their account somehow or has been paying for promotions, and Instagram likes it that way.

Instagram has also decided to make shopping a major part of the platform. Looking at it, they’ve given the stores of the accounts I actually follow very small real estate compared to corporate brands and online stores on the platform. Shopping and browsing through the actual accounts I care about also requires more clicks to look through. Sifting through the stores Instagram is promoting, I notice that perhaps Facebook and Instagram doesn’t have enough data about me. It’s like stumbling through some stranger’s Pinterest/Etsy page. If they’re trying to simulate caring and actually knowing their user base, they’re failing me. I don’t think Instagram will be taking over as one of my go-to platforms for shopping anytime soon.

So what does this do to me? Well, aside from not growing, nothing really. I imagine this is more frustrating for people who are intent on growing their accounts for visibility, business, or whatever, but if the end goal is business, Instagram is discouraging the influencer route and forcing people to reconsider paying for promoting their accounts. I think they’re also catering to people who are already selling through Instagram, not to new players. It was good to see my account organically grow within a couple of years. Honestly, I felt I had better feedback and more exposure as an artist compared to having my works in physical galleries in Korea. But seeing this current trend, I’m worried that Instagram will soon become the next Facebook.

It’s a good thing that Instagram is currently just images and short videos. If it becomes more like Facebook and becomes a platform for fake stories that trick my dad, then I will move on to the next thing.

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Internet Criming

Saint

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, also known as CDA 230, protects Web sites like Facebook or Twitter from liabilities which may be imposed due to third-party contents. So if a Facebook user promoted hate speech or whatever, Facebook as a company will not be held liable for promoting the hate speech, only the one who posted it is liable for it. Simply put, websites are not responsible if their users violate criminal or property law.

A law signed by Donald Trump two years ago poked holes into the protection CDA 230 provides. FOSTA (Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act) and SESTA (Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act) create an exception to CDA 230. Web sites are now liable for prosecution should their users promote sexual services. Advocates of the law have always looked at the worst case scenarios to push the law through, child sexual trafficking, but it ignores the fact that many sexual workers freely operate on the Internet, seeing it as a more secure avenue to ply their trade instead of going underground or on the street.

FOSTA and SESTA has not made the Internet safer for children. The laws simply haven’t. Just recently, a group of Korean teenagers were arrested for operating a Web site that trades, promotes, manufactures, and distributes child pornography. They were able to function for a time even with the laws already in effect. And they were the ones that were caught. Who knows if there are other operators out there currently distributing and manufacturing illegal material? The point is, the laws have just made it more complicated to operate such sites, but it hasn’t eliminated them. If anything, it just made sex work less safe for those who are willingly working in the sex industry. See, pedophilia and child pornography are already crimes. FOSTA and SESTA just makes criminals out of Web site operators and sex workers who have nothing to do with endangering minors. And really, if legislators are really serious about stopping criminals, they would criminalize bitcoins and all forms of cryptocurrency altogether. But you know they won’t.

But this rant is not about FOSTA and SESTA. It is about Facebook. I was just watching Joe Scarborough (I know, I know) rant about how Facebook is openly profiting from hate groups, harassment, and undermining democracy. Mark Zuckerberg does not care that his Web site has become an open market for false information. They were warned prior to the 2016 elections that their site was going to be used to undermine the elections and they were more upset at the people who raised the alarm. Fast forward to 2020, and Facebook is pushing ads on sites that push conspiracy theories and thinly-veiled (if at all) bigotry.

FOSTA and SESTA pierced CDA 230 in order to ineffectively protect children. It is very difficult to go against such legislation, because really, who isn’t against child sex crimes? But if anything was to greater than the love for freedom of speech, it’s the discomfort of people towards sex. This, I believe, is why FOSTA and SESTA were able to pass and why craigslist and backpage.com are no longer able to have people advertising sexual services. It’s not about protecting children. You can talk freely all you want, but once it’s about sex, then legislators are more willing to clamp down on your rights.

So many things that Facebook is allowed to do under the protection of CDA 230 is openly harming people including children. Disinformation over vaccines and COVID-19 is endangering the lives of people. Freely allowing hate groups to operate on the site has led to not only harmful government actions like caging migrant children, but also a rise in hate crimes. Child sexual abuse is bad, but it’s not a suffering Olympics. Other forms of suffering can be just as bad and they are allowed to continue simply because they don’t have the ickiness of sex. One could argue that profiting from undermining democracy is treasonous and is right up there with inadvertently promoting pedophilia.

So what am I saying other than Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook are garbage and that FOSTA and SESTA are dangerous pieces of law? I’m saying if legislators could find limitations to the umbrella of protection that CDA 230 provides, they should be able to do so with other offenses. Either that, or just go back to 2016 and make the Internet safer for sex workers. I’m also saying Mark Zuckerberg is a soulless creature that would gladly sell out his country and his neighbors to make a dollar. He won’t even police his own Web site. No patriots exist in the Facebook executive board. If you’re not using Facebook solely to for its Messenger app (because your relatives simply won’t get off it and find alternatives to messaging you), you should delete it. It would be better for you and for everyone. Go read a real newspaper.

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Online Musings

Shrimp

A few things about new life online:

I used to look down at the University of Phoenix and all of these diploma mills which have completely online education programs. It would appear that I was being dumb, especially now that most educational institutions have moved all of their curriculum online. What’s going to be challenging, and one that I’m trying to figure out myself, is how these programs will be dealing with testing and evaluation. Of course, some fields by their nature can be very easily adapted to distance testing be it through a timed online test or via long-form mail-in essays, but how about others? In any case, more people are going to have to be creative trying to come up with ways to educate and test outside of the classroom, and I’m trying to figure out how to basically make testing some skills cheat-proof despite the distance (part of my real job). It’ll be interesting to see how other people approach this problem.

Speaking of prematurely looking down on things. I remember Howard Stern looking down on podcasts and Youtube broadcasts. But now it seems everyone has no choice bu to adapt to Youtube broadcasting now that it’s not advisable to be in television or radio studios. Big names like Stephen Colbert and Seth Myers are working out the kinks to broadcasting at home and they have this sort of guerrilla amateurish vibe to them compared to longtime Youtube broadcasters. I’m not saying that Youtubers are looking to be the more superior form of broadcasters in these coronavirus times. Howard Stern, despite being at home, still managed to replicate the vibe he got from broadcasting in his old studio, complete with all of his staff working from their homes. The late night shows still come out pretty clever and entertaining. So how do these shows manage to do better in my opinion? It’s the writing. They actually have talented writers working hard on them. I don’t want to generalize, but many Youtube shows rely on one gimmick or simply run on the personality of the Youtuber. The ones that are actually good would have proper editors, writers, and producers.

And so now that most education and entertainment is now online. Doesn’t that make Internet connection a basic necessity?

I wonder how apps like Tinder and Grindr are doing these days. Early last year, Tinder began marketing heavily in South Korea. They’ve been in the country for a while but since last year, they began pushing it as a means to find friends of similar interests, not as a hook-up app. But now that everyone is social distancing even in South Korea where the coronavirus is starting to be under control, I can’t imagine people using it too much. And speaking of hooking up, what about people who normally hook up with people? I wonder how they are doing these days. Thinking of all the polygamists, open-relationship havers, and lotharios out there.

I myself have been more active online recently than usual. I don’t normally go out and meet people to socialize prior to the coronavirus pandemic, so I guess I’ve adjust better than most people. I’ve trained myself to be a curmudgeon at a young age and it’s paying off in spades. In any case, Instagram and Twitter are getting quite a workout. There’s family on Facebook, but it’s weird cause I imagine everyone would be just like me now, living like an expat separated from others, whose only connection to friends and family is online. Ignoring people on Facebook or any platform online would be truly, TRULY ignoring them.

Netflix was just introduced to South Korea last November. Whoever brokered that deal must feel like a prophetic genius. I worry about TV shows, movies, and media in general though. We already don’t have sports. At some point, if this keeps up, we’ll be running out of new movies and shows in the hopper. I’m already watching shows I normally would’ve skipped. Even the production of big studio pornography would be in danger. Most would probably be home cams and independent productions.

Online forums can be the most depressing place one can visit. There’s Twitter and its cynicism, but online forums, especially with expats in the country can be especially depressing. I don’t recommend it. If you’re thinking of going online to find people in similar circumstances, don’t do it. It’s just going to get you more depressed. Find stuff to be outraged with online. That’s more helpful than being depressed.

Trump and many conservatives recently predicted that the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic would cause people to want to commit suicide. Just last week, many conservative pundits online have been somewhat suggesting that the death of senior citizens would be preferable than a recession. Ghoulish. Well, since South Korea is basically a month into the future in terms of the virus and suicide rates have been traditionally high in the country, I decided to look at the numbers. In 2019, Koreans have been lamenting that the lackluster economy has been driving people to commit suicide, with the rate being 24.6 per 100,000 in 2016 and expected to grow further. Well, it’s now 2020. The economy hasn’t gotten much better and the coronavirus has made things much worse. The suicide rate in South Korea is somewhere around 26.9 per 100,000. It’s not really that high an increase, in my opinion. I still feel incredibly depressed and each day is a repetitive nightmare of meaningless routines, but I don’t feel any worse than usual.

Thank God for some good long video games coming this month. Unfortunately, while many of them are online, I notice that not many video games being released recently (or these days) are designed to be played couch co-op. They’re either one player games or games to be played with several people online, just not the person you happen to be in the house with. How is a person supposed to bond with people they are quarantined with? Tsk tsk. Seems like a missed opportunity in the apocalypse.

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Thanks for the comment, buddy!

Inktober

Despite #Inktober, I’m still working on art everyday. I’m slowly making new pieces whenever I find the time and applying to galleries if I find something that matches my work. My Instagram has been a bit sad since I post the same piece everyday with just a different part of it highlighted, but one thing it showed me is whether some of my regular Instagram visitors or actual people who know me are actually paying attention to my work or just throwing mindless compliments and pushing heart. To understand what I’m saying, here’s what I have on my Instagram.

As one can clearly see from above, a number of colored circles are there to highlight the part of the work which was zoomed in for that day. The colored circles are simply a tool, a sign, a visual to signify to the viewer to look at that spot. It was never meant to be a design element.

And yet one person who I happen to believe I was close to remarked, “Wonderful work Jospeh loving the colour.”

Now, it’s one thing to misspell my name. I can take it. But to say “wonderful colour,” why bother? The person cares enough to leave a comment and make their presence known, and yet doesn’t care enough to actually look at the work they are commenting on. This person is an artist, too! How can I take any artistic comment or criticism from this person seriously again, be it regarding my work or anyone else’? Ugh!

It’s like being in a gallery and hearing someone say the most general thing about your work. You know that they are trying to pay you a compliment. They are being kind. Patronizing, but kind. Neither of you want to be in that moment, and both of you would rather be back at the food table grabbing another glass of free wine.

Anyway, the lesson I guess is don’t take social media too seriously. And if you’re gonna half-ass saying hello to anyone on your social media for any obligation whatsoever, don’t even bother.

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Putting a Face on Creepy

Dead_Rabbit

I’m not a big fan of conservative politicians in general, but I find what’s happening to Tony Clement a tad unfair. Setting the hypocrisy of being a conservative, married politician fishing for young women online aside, I think people forget that he is a victim in this as well.

To recap Tony Clement, was caught sending lewd messages and inappropriate nudes online after it was learned that in at least two occasions, he has been extorted by people pretending to be willing adult recipients. Later, several surfaced and detailed Tony Clement’s behavior and calling it creepy. Apparently, he’s looking for extra-marital trysts with young women and would often boldly “like” women’s sensual pictures on Instagram, sometimes deep-diving into a user’s history of pics and liking them. This, apparently, is “creepy.”

Well, let me try defending a creep.

First off, I believe he should be disqualified for any leadership position, not for any of his behavior, but simply because he lost the confidence of his peers. Tony Clement is first and foremost a politician, and regardless of how unjust the way he lost his political influence and became toxic, you cannot have a leader which others would not want to be associated with. It is all simply politics. It has nothing to do with ethics, morality, or hypocrisy. No one would want him in the room. That’s not a leader.

Second, I believe that the “sin” of cheating on his spouse is solely between him and his wife. Anthony Weiner’s repeated escapades never really bothered me. I thought he was a good politician despite his crippling addiction to sexting. It wasn’t until he got caught for inappropriate communications with a minor that I got off the bandwagon. No one really knows what was happening in his marriage, no one except him and his wife. For all we know, his wife might have been okay with the whole thing. We can’t call it a sin if it isn’t a sin in their eyes. I can’t really judge what Tony Clement did to his marriage since we really don’t know what the nature of his marriage was at the moment. We can judge it for hypocrisy, yes, but it’s very difficult to call it a betrayal when we’re not privy to his marriage.

Just recently, 700 Club’s Pat Robertson proclaimed that viewing pornography is adultery. That is him judging everyone else’s marriages, marriages that he has no idea what the husbands and wives are okay with. I wouldn’t want to be like Pat Robertson and make assumptions on Tony Clement’s marriage. For all we know, his wife was okay with him messaging women. Maybe she thought it harmless. Men and women do things that others might consider infidelity but their partners are okay with. I’m sure many of the men who go see strippers have wives at home who are okay with that occasional behavior. Turning a blind eye to such activities is sometimes a pillar to many marriages.

And speaking of harmless, deep diving into someone’s Instagram gallery is harmless. It truly is. When a person’s pictures are out on the web, it is there for everyone to see. The harm or the “creepiness” that Tony Clement did was leave evidence. He let the women know that, yes, he did look through their pictures. He “liked” several of them. People are pretending that people, strangers, don’t do this. If your pictures are out there, people will look through them. Men do it. I’m sure women do it too. What Tony Clement did however is that he brought a face to that stranger looking through women’s Instagram history. He made the invisible stalker visible. Now, perhaps it was boldness on his part, or perhaps it was him simply being inept with the platform, but let’s not pretend that what he did was especially creepy. People do what he did all the time, they just don’t boldly “like” the pictures.

As for sending lewd messages and pictures, I don’t see anything wrong if it’s between consenting adults. As far as I could tell, the pictures he sent were towards consenting adults. And I could be wrong, but I haven’t seen any stories of him harassing women online by constantly messaging them. Sure, he would comment on people’s selfies and perhaps annoy, confuse, or make them feel a bit weird, but I don’t think that’s necessarily harassment. It’s weird and unusual, but he wasn’t on a campaign to menace people. It sounds more like he’s inept, if not socially then in terms of technology and security. Some of the women who have surfaced post rather sexy material online and appear to be open to online admirers. I am not placing blame on them for being harassed nor am I conceding that what Tony Clement did to them was harassment. But if total strangers online can make comments about a person’s half-naked pictures, why is it so wrong for a famous person to do so? Does it depend on the type of person who liking the pictures? What if it was some more attractive Hollywood celebrity instead of a conservative Canadian MP? And I don’t really buy into the fact that there is an unfair power dynamic since he is a famous politician. In fact, the recipients of the “likes” and messages had more power over Tony Clement since they were in position of what could possibly be embarrassing and politically damaging for anyone in government.

Again, Tony Clement is a victim of extortion. Let us not forget that. He is still being sex shamed after being a victim of what is comparable to revenge porn. He has made some women feel uncomfortable online, but he has not broken any laws. Everyone needs to calm down on the schadenfreude over his downfall.

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Hostage Families

Cherubs

Outside of the Ice Bucket Challenge, I cannot think of anything that Facebook has been involved in that ultimately resulted in good. Right now, it’s my main platform for keeping in touch with my family over the Internet, but we could definitely switch over to other ways of communicating if only someone would teach my father how to use WhatsApp (which ironically is another company which Facebook bought).

I haven’t updated my Facebook for years now. A couple of times, hacked accounts have even posted pornographic ads on my wall, and it stayed there for days without me even noticing. I guess like many people, I have outgrown the platform and are now more into other platforms like Twitter or Instagram (again, another company which Facebook bought). It really doesn’t benefit me to distant relatives and acquaintances’ baby pictures or vacation photos. And it really doesn’t do me any good to debate people I sorta know about political issues we both believe we are experts on. That’s what Twitter is for. I get to post a comment and leave it at that. Let some stranger deal with it. I could engage with responses if I want to. It’s different on Facebook when an uncle is telling me on my wall that I’m a communist.

The biggest turn off recently is that what people have long suspected about Facebook has finally been confirmed. Cambridge Analytica was using Facebook data to manipulate elections by feeding people propaganda. This is only one company that was revealed to be using this. Who knows which other companies are using Facebook data and to what end? And Facebook is caught in a true damned if they did, damned if they didn’t situation. Either they were complicit to Cambridge Analytica using Facebook information, or they were asleep at the wheel and let their users be subject to political propaganda. They’re either evil or stupid. And the thing is, the main tool they used to reach their goals is narcissism. It’s a perfect ball of evil. It’s often narcissism that compels someone to maintain and keep up a social network page. It’s narcissism that compels someone to seek out news that reinforces their own beliefs. It’s narcissism that pushes people to share the news with like-minded people. People never do it to inform or change minds; they do it to show how well-versed they are with a subject. And it’s narcissism and boredom that compels people to take those inane quizzes and surveys that Facebook frequently posts, the main tool which people used to collect data.

And to what end? What has Facebook done? Well, at the most innocuous, they sell our data to marketers who in turn sell us more things we don’t need. At its most insidious, they allow companies data to manipulate people’s views and shift elections and policies. Or simply they sell data to companies who will in turn use it to monitor people. Just recently, news broke out that Facebook lets ICE agent track undocumented immigrants and deport them, breaking families apart. Good thing those families have Facebook. Children could use it once mommy and daddy are forced to live in another country.

The most major event I could think of that Facebook was widely credited for allowing to happen was the Arab spring. And even that event is mixed. Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube were great platforms to share what was happening out in the streets in Africa and organizing protests. But that was 2010 Facebook and fake news was not as prevalent then as it is now. Also, it is notable that Mark Zuckerberg seems more open to courting Russian and Chinese authorities to the platform as opposed to doing damage control and making sure the platform is an open and welcoming space for people living in the west, where free speech is assumed to be a priority for a company like Facebook. But going back to the Arab Spring, I don’t really think it resulted in progressive change. If anything, it set many people back in Africa. There’s more instability now. Shiite and Sunnis are fighting now more than ever. Col. Gaddafi had grand visions for Africa and kept his country together.

Anything historical or progressive Facebook pushes now I’ll always see with a cynical view. To what end are they pushing this? And if I’m getting this news or political push, surely another person is getting the exact same news but given a diametrically opposite slant.

In any case, I’m depressed enough as it is and don’t need Facebook in my life. I’m already wasting enough of my time doing other useless things. I really don’t need to scroll through people’s Facebook posts wasting more time. Well, I want to sometimes. We all want to see how wretched our past acquaintances are compared to us. We are all small, petty human beings. But I wouldn’t want a giant company to use my evil desires to enrich themselves and further their own evil agendas.

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On Vigilantes

Snake_bones

Late to the party, but I just learned about Justin Payne’s vigilante channel exposing pedophiles in Toronto. As much as I enjoyed Chris Hansen’s work over ten years ago, I have to be honest that a part of the joy is watching someone get totally humiliated. It’s not so much for the pursuit of justice anymore, but getting high off the humiliation of another human being. Maybe that’s just me, but I suspect that’s what most people watching the show are there for. Chris Hansen for one sure likes to take his sweet time and humiliate perps in front of the camera.

Despite this, I’m a fan of what Justin does. But I’m afraid that he might eventually get hurt or that doing this type of work is just going to permanently damage his psyche. It can’t be healthy talking to several sexual predators all the time, subjecting yourself to their attempts at grooming you. Also, as someone who studied the law, I’m afraid that a lot of what Justin and similar vigilantes do wouldn’t result in criminal charges. They’re often focused on proving mental state which is often the most lurid part that attracts most viewers. But the problem is that they’re not really proving actual criminal conduct. Unfortunately, a crime cannot be committed if they prevented a crime from happening; there is no body. There were (thankfully) no real minors involved, and often no one gets hurt. If anything, these vigilante actions would initially expose the vigilantes to criminal charges or civil damages due to unlawfully taping phone calls, broadcasting without permission, incitement to imminent lawless action, or intentional infliction of emotional distress. I believe this and the fact that some vigilantes entrap their targets are the reasons why most of the people caught by the To Catch a Predator stings were let go.

But this doesn’t take away the fact that people like Justin Payne and these vigilantes are quite courageous for exposing themselves to a number of dangers. They are doing a great service in discouraging pedophiles from preying on minors. I really don’t blame them for taking action, especially if it’s happening in their neighborhoods. It’s sad that some of these potential predator’s lives might end up getting ruined in the process, but it’s even sadder to think what might have happened should they end up meeting real minors instead. It reminds me of Bill Zeller’s suicide note. In any case, I just wish these vigilantes’ approach we geared more toward rehabilitation. After all, the perpetrators’ urges could be considered a mental condition. But on how that could be accomplished, I have no idea.

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#MeToo on Atwood

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I’ve been watching Margaret Atwood’s ‘Alias Grace.’ It’s a bit of a slow burn, but after some time, it’s turning out to be a compelling horror story. Horror. It’s a horror being a woman in the not-so-distant past, even in a country like Canada. The story is about a white, Irish immigrant accused of murder and the events that led to her supposed crime. A white woman… granted, she’s an Irish immigrant back in the day when the Irish were suffering from discrimination, but imagine how much more horror there would be should the story be about a woman of color, say an Aboriginal woman in Canada.

This reminds me of the Louis CK joke; that time travel is only suited for white males. Women and minorities do not have the luxury of going back through time and not being in danger of being persecuted. History is too often a horror story for us. It can be very risky if not suicidal to revisit the past.

That’s not to say things have changed much in some cases. Minorities still feel the bitter sting of racism, and women are still constantly victimized by powerful (and even not powerful) men. This #MeToo hashtag has prompted public confessions and accusations regarding sexual harassment. Almost every other day, I see another prominent person being accused of being inappropriate. And that’s just the ones making the headlines. There are of course confessions from ordinary people about what happened to them as well. It would seem that the world is still occasionally a horror story for them as well.

The movement started with women speaking out, but it would appear that it’s not so much as women being victims, but about men taking advantage of their power because there have been confessions and accusations regarding men sexually abusing other men. It would seem that people being in power, who are most often men, is the problem. It’s the power. I guess that’s why it’s often said that rape is not really about sex, it’s about exerting power over another person.

This brings me to what happened to me back when I was fifteen. I was working part-time in an office, taking phone calls. After working in an A&W restaurant, I was glad to work in an office environment, even though I was just taking calls for most of the day. Things were going smoothly, and I was starting to really get used to the routine after school when my supervisor, a woman who was roughly twenty years older than me, leaned close and asked if she could sit on my lap while I worked. I just smiled at the suggestion and acted as if it was all a joke. But I never did return to that place. I wouldn’t want to know where that would lead. I was a child, I was fifteen.

I taught fifteen-year-olds before. I taught sixteen, seventeen, eighteen-year-olds before. I would never make such a comment or say anything that would be confused as such.

So, I guess that’s my #MeToo. Nothing really serious happened, so it didn’t bother me much. I remember I was more in disbelief at what actually happened. In any case, I count myself lucky that that’s the “worst” that happened to me at my most vulnerable in the workplace. I’m guessing most women would have a worse story to tell. In some ways, some people still live in Margaret Atwood’s dark imagination.

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