Friday, August 28, 2015

Selection bias in social media

DSC04319 (1400x933) - CopyNo one on the Internet is living the life you think they are.

Freelance writer Paul Jarvis

One of two basic truths about social media that we post only fun, flattering, and fabulous things about ourselves.   Typical tedium and toil are seldom remarked on, rarely worth documenting.

Reciprocally, we only see the high points in other’s lives, their vacation pictures, professional awards, and victorious stories.  It makes everyone seem smarter, more fulfilled, happier, and more successful than we are.

Personally, I don’t chide myself for projecting positive notes.  I purposefully write about DSC04287 (900x1400)the best things in life on my blog, posting pictures that make me happiest on Instagram.  (Facebook, however, remains a swamp for petty cruelties, my other basic truth.)

Virtuously. this stance forces me to reflect well on my days, to fill in some context, to capture a good illustration.

It also encourages me to take the time to find new experiences, to take a better photograph, to read some history about a place, that I might not otherwise do.

In other people’s posts, I keep perspective on all of  the positives.   Alongside  travel blogs, I follow a friend’s chronicle of cancer treatments, day by day, finding both inspirational.  Against startup successes described on Medium, I join friends when they hit a rough patch, finding both sobering.  I always remember that there are two sides to every human condition.

100 daysI got an email this morning reminding me that my 100 Happy Days are up: How Did It Go For You

Its been a challenge, thank you.

I feel like the three months have held some of the best and worst times in my life.   I could never have predicted the events, wouldn’t have foreseen the ways that people would act as things unfolded.

Perhaps I should have written a more balanced account, but it’s hard to discuss the reflections or express the resilience that these times have required.

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all, observed Helen Keller.   

I tend my social media in that spirit.  Maybe it’s only ‘Peripatetic FOMO’ (I had to look  that up: Seeking through travel, philosophizing while walking).  If so, as Jarvis suggests, I can only plead that it’s not actually the whole life I’m living.  ‘hopefully some, though.

Rather, my Internet persona expresses both what I do and what I want to be known for doing.  It’s a reflection of my own journey towards happiness, and spreading the positive bits along the way.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sculpture by the Lakes

DSC04340 (1400x933)I love a sculpture garden.  Barbara Hepworth’s garden in St. Ives is a particularly good one, as was a playful temporary one in the Loire Valley that I chanced on a few years ago.  There are several scattered across the UK, mostly run by private foundations, operating over the summer with rotating works by various artists.

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Sculpture on the Lakes is a half hour drive northwest of Poole, set well off the track along Dorset’s Pallington Lakes.  It’s a quiet setting surrounded by cornfields and cow pastures, laced with electric transmission lines that contrast with the flowering bushes.  Admission is £10 and includes the gallery and gardens; it takes an hour or so to stroll and pause, stroll and pause among the works.

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DSC04434 (933x1400)I thought that it was a bit of a monoculture: large sleek metal-works depicting birds and sprites, each on a grassy pad set monumentally apart from the others.  They vary from whimsical to pretentious, some set into descriptive text while others benefit from walk-around contemplation.  The best were set onto the ponds, where reflections of the sky and sculpture mingled on the surface.


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I liked the huge heads against the Dorset sky, the green sprite set down into the stream, and a stabile above the still waters at the center of the park.

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‘lots of helpful volunteers and an ice cream hut for a hot day – ‘worth a stop for a contemplative break along the drive between Bournemouth and Salisbury.