An unexpected follow-up to “Book Ideas”

Just the other day I wrote a post asking for book ideas

In that post I mentioned Brian, a friend from rehab in end 2009 to 2010, with an amusing anecdote about him being covered in butter after I accidentally dropped a large container in the rehab kitchen. After hearing my stories there, he wanted to help me write and market a book. (This was long before my blogging and before I knew about any talent whatsoever for this.)

Brian went home to the UK after that stint in rehab here in South Africa, and now we’re in contact again. If you are a struggling addict in the UK, you can use his website to try finding a rehab.

He still swears his idea of combining our talents will work, and with my writing about our combined experiences, together with his marketing and publishing skills, we can publish a best seller, targeting 17 million addicts in the UK alone…

I remain doubtful, but it is something to think about. Anyway, if you are an addict who needs help in the UK, please do check out his website.

On my evolving usage of Facebook

I was going to refer to my evolving usage of social media, but since I created a Twitter account years ago and never logged into it, my usage is limited to Facebook. I have found it interesting how this has changed over the years.

I created a Facebook account around 2009 (I think – that’s when I started using it anyway). I was sitting in an internet cafe, in dire straits living in Muizenberg, Cape Town. I was there to research rehabs, since I knew nothing about them, and desperately wanted to get out of my situation. But I was too high to really make much progress, tweaking my stupid head off, and so I created a Facebook account in another tab. And thus it began.

At first, thanks to my details, my age, location, school history and so on, I was connected to extended family, old school friends, and acquaintances right away. And it remained like that for a while.

I went to rehab, then returned to the world about three months later. Then did OK in my initial nine months clean, and made more friends. Then relapsed for nearly three years, and finally cleaned up for good in September 2013.

It was only really after that, that my usage of Facebook, and the internet in general, changed quite drastically. My interest in skepticism, which had been increasing since about 2010, finally blossomed into something more, having grown to a point where I needed more than simply reading about atheism and skepticism. I needed to connect to like-minded critical thinkers.

First came the blogs, besides my own… on skepticsm and atheism, conspiracy theories, and science based medicine. The latter is still one of my favourite subjects. Not only the debunking of medical pseudoscience, but the writing of skeptics who are also doctors and scientists, is fascinating. After that came the debate groups. Atheism verses theism mostly, and of course several atheist groups.

It was in those groups that I friended many other atheists from all over the world, and my friends list reached about 400.

Something funny happened along the way… many of those old school friends and acquaintances unfriended me. One guy, who wasn’t even a friend but had followed me, responded to atheism memes with “This has no place on Facebook” and “I’ve had quite enough of this”. How bizarre! The man is not exceptional, not what I would call a thinker, and certainly not a friend. Instead he was one of those people I knew in school who cruised through high school, doing well enough because he’s not stupid, but never really saying a word of his own. I don’t imagine he’s doing much better now. Sure, he’s well of financially. But I’d rather be someone who has a voice. Not some twat just like everybody else, accepting my religious indoctrination and conflating the subject of my beliefs with my very identity; then passing on my indifference to my children.

It’s amazing that some people think they can tell everyone else how they’re supposed to use social media. Many people use it for social activism. So I use mine for everything, personal stuff as well as connecting with fellow critical thinkers, and criticism of faith based belief systems. And of course memes. Reams of memes. If you don’t like it, unfriend, unfollow, stop fucking thinking if you don’t like it. You’re your problem, not mine.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I decided to try an experiment. I started adding suggested friends. At first if we had more than five mutual friends, that was good enough for me. Then 100 mutual. But the more I added, the more there were to add. Now there are suggested friends who have as many as 300 mutual friends, who I have never met. I don’t know how much longer I’ll keep adding them, but I do see now how easy it is to reach 5000. I have just over 1000 now, and maybe I’ll calm down with adding new ones. But it is interesting – there is a different dynamic when you have more friends. For one thing, if you want people’s opinions and post a status asking for comments, you get lots of them. If you want validation and reactions, post something funny. And being connected to plenty of smart people means you get to learn from them. I love my Facebook friends.

You can never have…

We are all more alike than I ever thought…

Not much of a point to this one… I’ve already started working this morning, but while I wait for this humongous database to restore, I have time to write something short…

Lately I feel like I understand my fellow humans more than ever. It’s weird. Despite our upbringing, our locations and our beliefs, we are often so alike, it can be eerie. “Eerie” is probably the wrong word – I mean something with a positive connotation, but fuck it; I don’t have time to find a word that makes more sense.

This morning I shared this:

chat

And I got those reactions quite quickly. It’s early so there will be more reactions to come.

The other day I shared something like this:

Sometimes I reply with a really stupid comment and then I delete it because it’s so stupid but then I wonder if he or she already read it and I feel even more stupid for deleting it.

(Run on sentence deliberate.) That resulted in a massive number of likes and “You are not alone” comments.

I’m still not sure why I’m sharing this… not exactly. But it makes me feel good, it gives me hope, to know that we are often so similar. I spent so many years feeling lonely, so many years not fitting in. And yet there are so many people like me. If you’re one of them, maybe it’s good to know?

Walk the Talk 2017

Yesterday I participated in the 2017 Walk the Talk 8km walk, with a team from SASS. (South African Secular Society)

Here are some photos…

20170723_081911

Me before the walk. (Above.)

20170723_114026

Me after the walk. (Above.) Don’t be fooled by the smile… When I got home, I slept for the whole afternoon.

And lastly, here’s one of the team… It was a bigger team than last year, and unlike last year when I unfortunately went to gym (for the very first time) the day before and struggled with the walk, this one was enjoyable and relaxing, except for a couple of places where there were bottlenecks and I felt claustrophobic walking in the large crowd.

20248010_1474366952658132_1490291949837241480_o

 

There’s one more photo I’d like to get, but it’s on the phone of that guy to my right, and I’ll ask him for it as soon as he accepts my Facebook friend request.

Edit… eventually got it.

MeWithPoster

Some unexpected flattery from 26 years ago. You made my day!

Yesterday I posted a scan of an old photograph on Facebook… It was a photo taken at school, from my matric year in 1989, and featured thirteen guys sitting on a bench. We weren’t the closest of friends, but were a good bunch of guys who somehow banded together and talked shit on the field at break time.

I didn’t really have a set clique of friends that I hung out with. I never really did fit in anywhere, or sometimes I felt that I did fit in everywhere, so I hung out with different groups of people all the time. I was in a kind of limbo, neither popular nor unpopular – mostly average. As someone who always ended up in the “top set” of every class, but didn’t do any work or ever stand out, I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere. I guess these guys were similar, and so in the last couple of years of high school, they were the ones I hung out with the most, even though I wasn’t close with any of them. But it is a good photo, in retrospect.

Here it is… Seventeen year old me is on the far right in the second row.

01

Through that photo, I got in contact with some people I haven’t seen in 26 years, but what really surprised me was a compliment I received from one of them. He confessed that all those years ago he had a huge crush on me and thought I was “the hottest guy on the planet”.

Wow. I didn’t see that coming. I can be quite vain (as well as shy and lacking self-confidence simultaneously – it’s complicated ), and always thought of myself as hot, to be honest, but I also always figured I was the only one to think so. I don’t know how I would have reacted if I’d known all those years ago… It would probably have been awkward. I don’t think I was homophobic (selective memory maybe) but I think I was ignorant. Thank you, buddy, for telling me now, after all these years. I am so flattered… that’s the best compliment I’ve received like… ever… and you really made my day.