Monthly Archives: September 2014

Smiffy Says Ello

There is a new entry into the world of social media, in the form of ello. Yesterday, I was given an invitation, and signed up as @schamiyam, my regular identity already being taken. (The problems of having a common name, including nickname.)

The following is the text of the first significant post I made, preserved for posterity, should ello cease to exist (or get bought by FaceBook, in which case I would delete my account.)  The first section was written in modern/brief English, and was partially re-phrased to match the second.

So pondered have I how might this novel medium me serve, how might it be a part of the way within which, with the world, I interact. From the outset, worried I that another might it become, something soon to abandon, perceiving no obvious virtue, and taking away time from the other media in which I can communicate in a productive manner.

@ello has its faults but, ignoring for now accessibility issues, the faults for me are primarily cosmetic, unlike the ghastliness that is Facebook. The faults of my primary medium, Twitter, have been, and remain manifold. In looking into how this medium might serve me, I look therefore to those virtues which it has, of which others lack; the answer lies in what I have written here so far – in a single message, I have written what would have taken in the order ten, disjointed, truncated, tweets.

Whilst Twitter begets brevity, teaches terseness, vanquishes verbosity, it makes also for a marring, and a mangling of language, a literary laxness, which oft do I find to be a right, royal pain in the arse.

The very name under which I write, @schamiyam, was one I created for a writing project, many moons ago. It is meet, therefore, that this become a place to write as Art, rather than as a mere vehicle for factual information.

Thus do I rest my use-case.

FOOTNOTE: It appears that one cannot copy and paste from this composition screen. Browsers crash, so probably best to compose offline, and paste the completed text.


Identity, Nationality, and Culture

Whilst Scotland held a referendum on independence, at the helm of the @WetheHumanities Twitter rotation/curation account, @cristobál started a discussion about identity with an environment/environments:

So, I would like to know your opinion about identity in your environment, how you would define it and if there is space for multiple ones.

With nationalism rearing its ugly head, I recounted how the occurrence of the Falklands Conflict in my high school years cured me of that sentiment for life. (I have two mementoes of this: the Pink Floyd album The Final Cut, and Raymond Briggs’ book The Tin-Pot Foreign General and the Old Iron Woman. Both highly poignant.)

I had long thought that my aversion to nationalism had stripped me of any real national identity, but a couple of hours sitting on a tractor, mowing weeds, gave me  time to ponder this, and  related issues. Realising that I had more thoughts on the matter than would fit comfortably into a tweet, or three, I decided to unburden myself here, instead.

It did not take me long to realise that my antipathy towards nationalism was as strong as ever – “we are better than everyone else who lives outside of this artificial boundary” does not sit well with me. Sexism and racism, where there is generally a fairly well defined means of demarcation of “them” and “us,” are pretty despicable things, but when the demarcation is an imaginary line – no, I’m just not going there.

To mis-quote Socrates, I am neither English nor Australian, but a citizen of the world – or am I? My tractor-time gave rise to the realisation that whilst I might not identify with the concept of a nation, there are cultural artefacts with which I do identify, things that are So Very English. PJ Harvey’s White Chalk [Youtube] says something about the landscape of my early childhood, and never fails to move me. Likewise the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams, a good India Pale Ale, the accents of South West England. Yes, I realise that people from the other side of the world can love these as well, but it’s the collection of these cultural artefacts that make me think that, culturally, I am English. [Note: I don’t use ‘British’ as I come from one specific place; if I used British, I might as well use European.]

So, this culture, that which I assimilated in my early years, is part of my identity. I don’t particularly miss the country I left – I am now somewhere else, this is my home. Is Australia part of my identity? If it is, in any way, it’s the landscapes.

And the Scottish vote? Important – a people deciding its future in a very significant way. (I do not regard a nation choosing its way forward as nationalism – unless that way forward involves something like the annexation of a neighbour.) I regard voting as a duty more than a privilege, and was delighted to see such a high-turnout, from a country where voting is not mandatory, as it is in Australia.

There is a certain irony in that, despite my views on voting, I am voluntarily disenfranchised. I won’t cast a postal vote for the country in which I no longer live (I left, I am no longer part of it,) but am unable to vote in the country in which I do, as I am not a citizen. I have rejected the idea of becoming a citizen, as this requires swearing an oath to be, as I see it, a flag-waving nationalist. If the oath were changed to “I swear to obey the law and pay my taxes,” just tell me where to sign.