social media saturation

Just over a week ago I reached saturation point with social media. Particularly Facebook. I was suddenly totally sick of it – not just, ‘that’s enough now, thanks’, but more, ‘oh for God’s sake will everyone just SHUT UP!’

What’s on my mind? You don’t need to know, Facebook! MYOB.

This, of course, is my issue and not the fault of my Facebook friends. I wasn’t irritated by any one person or few people, just generally by the whole notion that we all share so much so often. And personally I’d had enough of being constantly aware of so many things that so many people were doing, or the thoughts they were having or the way they were feeling or the things that they, their kids, their dogs, cats, mice and ferrets were eating or drinking or dancing at any one moment. It felt like just too much input.

I’ll admit I’d been on Facebook far too often. If I’d just looked once a day it would have been fine, nice even to see what people were getting up to. But I’m not like that with it. I was checking my newsfeed all the time – like a nervous twitch, any spare moment – in the car waiting outside school, in a queue, while the kettle was boiling, on the loo… my phone would suddenly be in my hand and ‘click’ the hundreds of voices poured in. Sometimes I’d just glance, sometimes have a quick scroll but given the chance (in the evening) I could lose hours. The word ‘feed’ is far too accurate – it made me feel bloated and overloaded and sluggish. Like I’d gorged on something unhealthy. I had Facebook flab.

So I took a step back. Last week I buried the FB app in a seldom-visted backwater of my phone and I haven’t looked at my newsfeed for over a week now. I’ve still popped to my groups when notifications have arrived but that feels much more controlled – more like nibbling on crudités than overeating. I’ve also still been on Instagram and Twitter but they’ve never had the psychological pull that Facebook has (let’s call them the reasonably appealing yogurts of the metaphor) so I didn’t feel the need to avoid them entirely.

And how have I found it? Well, in the most part good because I really do experience social media as noise and I like a bit of silence. There have been (brief) moments when I’ve luxuriated in it this past week. Since I’ve always prioritised real world interactions over the online world anyway (as introverts go, I’m a bit of a social butterfly) I’ve not felt lacking in interaction, there’s just been less chatter in my head. I’ve been more able to hear myself think.

But… I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t been odd. I feel a bit out of the loop – like I suddenly don’t know what my friends are doing or how they’re feeling about things. World events happen and I only know what a few people think about them. Things happen in people’s lives and I don’t have a clue. Or maybe nothing’s happened and I don’t have clue. The point is I don’t have a clue. And when you’re used to knowing things about a lot of people, that’s a weird feeling.

It’s made me realise though, that I don’t actually need to know. If it’s important then I’ll find out. If our friendship is important they’ll tell me the crucial stuff, as I will them. Even though social media has become a common way of making announcements, really, when relationships are genuine and when things are really important, we contact people personally. And the people who matter, matter regardless of what you know about what they’re doing or thinking on any particular day.

Behind the scenes this week, I’ve continued to connect with people, if anything slightly more than I would have done if they’d been popping up in my feed. And I know that as time goes by I’ll do that more and more: ‘I wonder how so and so is doing? I know – I’ll ask them!’ It’s a more genuine way to be a part of people’s lives really isn’t it? I’ve often thought that reading people’s status updates gives you a false sense of having communicated with them – that we’d make more personal effort if we didn’t have that tenuous connection.

Without social media we might know fewer people. But we also might properly connect with more.

So I’ll be staying away from my newsfeed for a while longer. At least.

 

The post social media saturation appeared first on writing bubble.

find the cost of your paper

Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

The post A Plague of Giants appeared first on Elitist Book Reviews.

The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.

27