Time For A Little Social Media Break

It’s been a while since I last posted something. The truth is, I haven’t had much to say. I haven’t been taking a lot of pictures that I want to post, I haven’t had a lot of random observations or thoughts to bore you with, and I haven’t had a lot of unique Excel stuff going on at work that I can turn into a post. 

(Side note: thinking through the things I’ve posted here, largely lumped into the three categories above, makes this a strangely discordant blog.)

Truthfully, my time has been spent doing a lot of writing, a lot of editing, a fair amount of bass playing (started taking lessons a few months ago), and a lot of news watching. Probably a lot more than is healthy. Anyone who knows me knows that I run on the liberal side of American politics, but regardless of your affiliations, you have to admit that the months since the current president was elected have been a ten for the non-stop entertainment value. Depending on your brand of politics, it’s either been an action movie or a horror movie, but it’s been interesting to watch.

Truth be told, the political climate has been the most contentious I have ever seen. There is no more middle ground in American politics, and there is no more middle ground in the political discussion. Hell, we have ordinary citizens now shooting at the other party simply because they are the other party. We’ve reached that level of crazy. 

I’m sure there have been studies and analysis, but anecdotally, at least as I view it, the chief cause of this seems to be the growing prevalence of social media as the world’s primary choice of media consumption. 

It’s self-fulfilling in its way. Facebook, with all of its fancy algorithms, customizes your news feed to offer you media choices that align to the things you’ve liked or watched before. It’s trying to anticipate other things that you might be interested in reading. Which is fine, I suppose, but limiting. By offering only those things that align to your previous reading, you lose the perspective of the other side of the argument. By reading and/or liking Jacobin, your feed will start to include other similar sites like In These Times, Media Matters, and The Mary Sue. But you’ll never see Reason, The Federalist, and TownHall.com. 

Twitter likewise tries to offer you things that fall into your political spectrum. You follow a few people, and then retweet something that falls into your brand of politics, so then you follow the person who they retweeted, and on and on until you have a bloated list of people you follow who subscribe to the exact same conversations you do, and those who are on the other side of your arguments you lump into Twitter Lists with titles like Tools, or Assholes, or Dipshits. 

There seems to be no more middle ground, with our news and opinions curated for us so that they are no longer really our own, just a regurgitation of the same things we’ve already read, liked, or retweeted. And what’s worse is that the dangerous influence of social media is extends beyond mere politics. It’s a total disconnect from actual human interactions, and so we forget how to connect with actual humans. Yesterday, a girl in Taunton was convicted of pushing her ex-boyfriend into suicide via text messaging because she wanted the attention. How have we reached that point?

So I’m taking a break. I’m dropping off Facebook and Twitter for a while. I’m not flat out deleting my accounts, disabling or deactivating them. I’ll remain a part of the social media world, if not active in it. I’m starting out for just this summer, and I’ll see how I feel come autumn. Because I feel social media is hurting me in some ways. Hurting relationships, hurting how I interact with people, and quite frankly, hurting how I think. I’ve seen first hand how social media posts can trigger anxiety attacks and render a person useless for an entire day, just because of a few words or a picture thrown out in cyberspace. 

Enough already.

If you want to get a hold of me, text me. Or call me. Or Messenger me (I’ll keep Facebook Messenger running). DM me on Twitter if you like. Hell, if you’re feeling industrious, write me a good old fashioned letter. I haven’t gotten one of those since college. I don’t even know if people remember how to write letters. Need my address? Contact me privately. If I know you, I’ll give it to you. Send a postcard if that’s what you’ve got in mind. The point is, if you want to talk to me, then talk to me. 

But mass posts that target a bunch of people at once? I probably won’t see them.

I’m not trying to target anyone with this post, this isn’t about calling anyone out on the mat. This isn’t about anyone but myself. This is how I feel, and the actions I’m taking. I’m not telling you that you have to follow suit. Do what you feel you need to do. 

In the meantime, have a great summer. See you in the fall. 

Maybe. 

Mar 4 Photo

  
Hipstamatic released a free film recently called Arjan BW. It’s in honor of a member of the Hipstamatic community, Arjan van der Horst, who recently suffered a fatal stroke. He was know for his black and white street photography. 

I am not know for my street photography. I don’t work in a city, and I don’t get out of my office building except to go home. So that fact that I went to Panera to pick up dinner gave me a chance to take some street photography pictures. What I found was that the film probably works best in outdoor environments. 

In this case, I used the Arjan BW film, the Lowy lens, and the Spiro Gel flash. 

Feb 14 Photo

  
My wife and sister-in-law have had this funny Valentine’s Day tradition for years, and that is to give Valentine’s Day the middle finger and go out for sushi. And even though my wife and I have been married for close to twenty years, it’s a tradition that persists. So today we went out to get some sushi with the kids and an old friend of ours. 

The picture above is part of an order of crab rangoon (yes, I know, it’s not a sushi, but it’s an appetizer), which itself is seems to be something of a anomaly up here in New England. At least, as far as we’ve seen. Up here, you ask for crab rangoon, the restaurant knows what you mean. Anywhere else, they seem to be called crab dumplings. (Well, at least in Maryland anyway.) Not sure why that is. 

These crab rangoon are a little different than what you usually see. Most times, it’s crab and a cream cheese filling in some dough, pinched together and fried.  The crab rangoon we had today was crab and cream cheese, along with some additional herbs, wrapped in a thin dough and deep fried. Looked different than usual, but still very tasty. 

Feb 13 Photo

  
I love Scooby-Doo. I remember watching it when I was a kid, usually before school, waiting the time when I would leave to walk to school. Five or six years ago, I rediscovered Scooby-Doo when my younger daughter began to watch the shows. 

A month ago, I’m walking through Target, and lo and behold, Lego has introduced a Scooby-Doo line. The Mystery Machine above is a recent birthday present, and maybe the coolest Lego I’ve gotten in a long time. 

Feb 12 Photo


My town has, of all things, a dairy. Model Dairy operates out of Main Street. I’ve lived in my town for fifteen years, and I still know next to nothing about this dairy. Their website is a Facebook page. They have a truck that roams around town that looks like it dates back to when Ike was president, and smells even older. They have a building that is down the street from me, yet I never see anyone coming or going. I’m sure this dairy is fully functional, but it must be a word of mouth kind of thing.

This morning, after dropping my daughter off at school, I noticed that the morning light was hitting this mystery building in a way that begged to be photographed. I pulled over, pulled out my phone, and started snapping. One of the results is above.

I played around with this one in Enlight. I’m still getting to know Enlight, to figure out all of its tips and tricks. One of the things it offers that some of the other photo-editing apps don’t is the use of curves. Using curves is essentially just picking a spot on a curve, overlaid on top of the photo, and dragging it this way or that to change the color within the part of the photo the curve falls. Think of curves as a way to alter the hue and saturation of a part of the photo only, and not the entire photo. Using the curves, I was able to enrich the warm color hitting the upper part of the picture, and cool down the lower part of the picture with the snow.

I think the result is okay. It’s not the best picture or post-processing I’ve ever done, but it’s still interesting enough (to me, at least) to post.

Feb 4 Photo

  
One of the lens that comes in the Ztylus lens kit is a fish eye lens. Fish eye lens are a little on the weird end of photography, I find. It gives you an really interesting picture in certain situations, but its application is so limited. How many landscapes of selfies can you really see in a fish eye view before you go “Okay, enough already, I get it, the world is bendy.”

That said, I had to try the fish eye at least once. I knew the picture I wanted to capture, it was more a question about whether the fish eye lens would make it look cool or just kind of goofy. I walked along a path at work today until I came to a group of trees, pointed the camera straight up, and snapped. 

I gave the picture some post-processing in Snapseed to make it more moody. I think it turned out, for the most part okay. I don’t know how often I’ll use the fish eye lens, but once in a while, it’s fun. 

Jan 30 Photo

  I’m still playing around with the new lens kit from Ztylus. This is a shot with the wide angle lens, taken at the new music hall at the Joy of Music Program (JOMP) in Worcester. The new music hall is absolutely beautiful and the sound is great. The lens is also nice, providing a much better picture than the one I have from CamRah. I may post a review of the lens kit after I get the chance to use it some more, but for now I’m just enjoying playing around. 

Dear Victoria’s Secret: A Rant

Dear Victoria’s Secret:

What the hell’s the matter with you? You should know better.

You know what, maybe I should back up, provide a little context as to why I’m so angry with you. Let’s start with your most recent catalog. Something that was pointed out to me by a friend from high school, Leanne, on Facebook. Something I, sadly, wouldn’t have thought to look for. But I’m not the market for this catalog, am I, so why would I give a crap? Well, I do. I have daughters, so I care quite a bit.

Here’s a snapshot of the lacy thing on the back cover:

  
Notice anything funny (and I’m not talking funny haha) about this picture? No?

Let’s zoom in, shall we:


See it yet? Still no? Are you really that blind, or are you just being obtuse? Okay, let me outline it for you:


See it now? Compare it to the picture just before this one. Notice how this model’s underwear seems to extend out beyond the end of her hips? How the underwear is just magically floating out there in space? See it now?

So, I ask again: what the hell is wrong with you? Why would you think this kind of thing is okay?

Let me lay some foundation here. I’m not a body shamer. I think that people are the shape that they are, that it’s none of my business, and that’s that. Some of us work to change our shape because we don’t like it (that would be me right now, trying to lose all the holiday weight I put on). Some of us don’t care what our shape is. Some of us are larger and that’s just the way our body is, and some of us are rail thin, again because that’s the way our body is. I’m not about to start shaming a VS model for being too skinny, because I know nothing about her or her body. I don’t even know her name. Maybe she starves herself to make it into the pages of the catalog, living on Diet Coke and cigarettes. Maybe she works out eight days a week and eats well and her body is the fruit of those labors. Maybe she has the metabolism of a high school football player, eating Big Macs everyday and losing weight in the process. Doesn’t matter what her situation is cause it’s none of my business.

What IS my business is the blatant Photoshopping you’ve done on a catalog that comes into my home. When I (or in this case, my wife) invite you into our home, I expect you to behave in a manner that is polite and respectable. You’re digitally shaving off part of this girl’s body is not polite. It’s unbelievably rude. It shows incredibly disrespect for the human body. And it’s dangerous.

I have a twelve year old daughter. She’s too young for most of your stuff, thankfully, but she does like the Pink line you sell. Sweatshirts, comfy pajamas, stuff like that. Sure, I get that. Who doesn’t like comfy pajamas. She doesn’t look through the catalogs, it’s not her thing. She could care less about sexy lacy things at this point, and I’m more grateful for that than I can express. I’m completely unprepared for the day when sexy underwear becomes her thing. At that point I may lock her away in a tower, hire a contractor to dig a moat, and rent a dragon.

Except, what happens when she DOES start to look through the catalogs for those things? When she see these girls, who are made to look rail thin, simply because you want to sell more of a sheer lacy cover thing? God forbid she thinks this image is something to emulate. The last thing she, or any girl, needs is an eating disorder because of something she saw in a catalog. There is plenty of evidence that things that glorify “thinness” are a contributing factor to body image issues. Don’t believe me? Review this link, and notice the third category from the top.

Or maybe it’s even more insidious. Maybe you know and you simply don’t care. Maybe you have inventory to move and gross margins to hit and shareholders to report to. That would be even more inexcusable.

As a concerned, and irate, parent of daughters, I’m challenging you to fix this. How about you produce a catalog of VS girls in their underwear with NO photo editing at all? How about you let us see that these girls have paunches, cellulite, moles, birthmarks, and no gap between their thighs? How about you show the world what real women look like, apologize for your crassness, and make a statement that it doesn’t matter what you look like, that as long as you’re comfortable in your own skin, you’re beautiful? That would be a catalog I think we all would appreciate.