I just read an interview with tech people who founded the internet & social media. They were appalled at how their idealism and naivite has shaped up into a nightmare. But one thing stood out for me: how algorithms have changed. Timelines used to to emphasize likes (remember the days of mostly cat videos?). Now it’s all about driving engagement. That’s what advertisers are looking for. And “free” social media is all about getting ads. So what drives engagement?
They’re basically trying to trigger fear and anger to get the outrage cycle going, because outrage is what makes you be more deeply engaged. (Roger McNamee)
And that feeds the trolls. Russian trolls & others aiming to disrupt democracy manipulate us by playing on either righteous anger or bigotry. They don’t care which–they’re out to stir us up, to sow chaos and hate. Continue reading “How To Take Back Facebook & Defeat Trolls”
FaceBook tracks you across the internet on any website that has a FB button, whether or not you are signed into FaceBook and even if you don’t have an account. Is that creepy or what? There is a solution, and at the end of the post I’ll provide it, so scoot down if you’re in a hurry. Continue reading “What Mark Zuckerberg Didn’t Tell You”
I had a housemate, once, with a mean cat. At the start of every summer, she’d have her cat shaved so he wouldn’t overheat. I always had to watch out for Rocky, her cat. He had a habit of leaping up to bite my legs. He also used to torment my cat, growling and swatting with his claws. Continue reading “On Embarrassment”
It’s been about a year since I went to emergency with my hockey playing concussed daughter. At the time, all that concerned me was her head, but I instinctively sat between her and the homeless man. Beside him, on the other side, was an old man and a middle-aged woman, his daughter I assumed. I felt sorry for the old man, having to sit next to the homeless guy, not because he smelled, which he did, but because he was edgy, unpredictable. I was watchful, protective, ready to move my daughter, who was playing a game on her phone.
One of the nurses sauntered over to the homeless guy. “Let’s see that foot,” she said.
“It’s kind of dirty.” Continue reading “Unlikely Saints”
Sometimes I like to toy with the scammers on the phone. It’s an exercise in quick thinking, saying whatever comes into my head, messing with them until they hang up in an outraged huff. This time it was the Microsoft scam. You know, they call and say that they’re from Windows and they’ve detected errors on your computer. The conversation went like this.
Him: “I’m calling from Microsoft Windows, Ma’am. We’ve detected dangerous errors on your computer. Do you know that it’s under attack?”
Me: “But I don’t have any computers.” Continue reading “The Gentle-Hearted Computer Scammer”
The reporter sits across from me and asks very nicely if he can record our conversation. Video, he says. I know what video is, I tell him. My voice doesn’t sound like my voice. I’m 115 years old. I used to be the second oldest person in the world. Since February, I’ve been the oldest person still alive.
“1900 isn’t that long ago,” I tell him. “It’s still the twentieth century.”
“We’re in the 21st now,” he says kindly. Continue reading “The Oldest Woman’s Secret”
The Shame of Survival: Working Through a Nazi Childhood by Ursula Mahlendorf
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Ursula Mahlendorf was born the same year as my mother. They were kids during WW2, teenagers by the end of it. While my mother was in a concentration camp, she was in Hitler Youth–so you can imagine the personal interest I bring to it. I found it a gripping memoir, as much for her personal story before, during and after the war as for its perspective on indoctrination and subsequent guilt.
Mahlendorf’s writing is lucid and evocative. I came to the memoir to find out more about the BDM (Bund Deutscher Mädel), the teenage girls’ branch of Hitler Youth. But ultimately what kept me riveted to the book is her personal story, and her ability to bring it to life layered with reflections of her older self. Continue reading “A Girl In Hitler Youth”