Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Think Before You Tweet

(How Twitter is Making Me a Better Person)

Anyone who has spent a few minutes scanning my Twitter feed knows I have a tendency to over share. Granted, there are many out there who share much more and are more vulgar with their language, but I tend to just blurt out the first thing on my mind anyway and if I happen to have my iPhone on me or be near the computer, it goes out to the world.

Make no mistake though, I am fully aware that every tweet sent is out there for the world to see, and as such there's a certain amount of self-editing that occurs before I hit send. Most of the time it's a self serving exercise, but regardless of the motivation behind the censorship, it still occurs, and that's probably a good thing.

However, on Sunday night I got a glimpse into my inner self that indicated there was something more going on than just Internet self-preservation. I was watching the Oscars, sitting with my laptop, and waiting for just the right moment to toss out a zinger and hopefully snag a few re-tweets. My initial attempt at mocking the "Who are you wearing?" red carpet question was a bit of a dud ("I'm not wearing any pants. Underwear by Joe Boxer") so I was getting worried that maybe I just didn't have my A-game that night.

Then just as I finished typing something else I thought twice. I cleared the text and refreshed my screen, and immediately read a tweet just sent out by Neil Hedley ("Turning off the Twitter machine for now. The hypocrisy is becoming intolerable. #bullying #Oscars"). Apparently he was taking exception to some of the remarks being put out into the Twitterverse and was fed up. He went on to blog about it here.

Apparently my think twice moment came at the same time as the straw was breaking Neil's back. Right before I hit send I thought to myself, how would I explain this to my 9 year old daughter?, and I couldn't think of anything I could say to her that would justify what I was about to tweet. Experience and conscience tells me that in cases like that it's probably not something that should be done. So I didn't tweet it.

Granted, that is a far cry from not even thinking it in the first place, but it's a really important first step. As my personal mission statement for 2012 goes...

Be better, not perfect.

Neil blogged about how he's lost respect for some of his friends and colleagues who partook in the Twitter celebrity slam fest Sunday night, and though I only know him through a few Twitter interactions and one meeting a few nights ago at his book launch, I can say quite honestly that I hope I'm not one of the people he was talking about.

Twitter is more than just what someone had for lunch or what they did at 4:20 that afternoon. If you're paying attention it can change the way you think. It certainly has for me, on more than one occasion.

I'm glad I didn't send out that tweet, and I'm glad Twitter has people like Neil.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Nothing to Hide?

I'm finding it very hard to write this post and not come off as some sort of nut job who is all anti-government, anti-legislation, and anti-this-that-and-the-other-thing who is just sour because the election didn't turn out the way I wanted.

I have perfectly valid reasons for my disenchantment with the state of the Canadian government right now and nothing sums it up better than the tabling of Bill C-30 (formerly Bill C-51). Leading up to the last election this was just the sort of thing I was afraid of, and now it's happening, and if we don't do something about it it's only going to get worse.

Bill C-5130 is usually summed up with the words "lawful access", which is exactly what it is. It's a bill that will grant authorities lawful access to your internet history, your email, and countless amounts of personal information - without a warrant. The cherry on top of this is that in order to be in a position to collect and store this information in case the Feds demand it, Internet providers will need to spend dollars - lots of them - upgrading their systems. Now what are the chances those costs won't get passed along to the the consumer? I'm guessing slim to none, and slim just left town.

In summary: Bill C-5130 will allow for unfettered access to your internet and email without a warrant and you will get to pay for it.

A while back this government tried to make our Internet more expensive and as a country we went absolutely bat shit crazy by the hundreds of thousands. How there aren't millions of Canadians going bat shit crazy over Bill C- 5130 is beyond me.

Sign the petition. Demand your MP put a stop to this, and let the Canadian government know that this bill is not OK. Not one bit.



Here's a CBC news report:



Some very well done videos to put things into perspective (and a sample for your viewing pleasure here):



...and if you have 15 minutes, a mini-documentary:

Friday, February 3, 2012

Kev Makes Good

If you read this blog you know about  my history with the writer/director Kevin Smith. It's been a hot & cold, up & down, tumultuous & tenuious "relationship" that has been going on for more than a year. Well, last night in Toronto, in front of 500 die-hard fans and countless thousands of others on the big screen in over 500 theaters across North America, Kevin and his organization did what they do best, and in the process provided me with some much needed closure.

Upon hearing of his live show in Toronto I sent Jordan Monsanto and Meghan Quinlan an email asking if my art swap deal could be realized. In what can only be described as "lightning fast" reply Jordan indicated she'd put the request in to the venue to have myself  +1 put on the guest list. That was Monday. I was assured a response by Friday. It came and a friend and I were off to the show.

Trying something different, Kevin was doing a live podcast with Jason Mewes (Jay and Silent Bob Get Old) at a movie theater and simulcasting it to theaters all over North America (I'm told over 500 screens). After the hour long podcast Kev and Jay would do a Q&A taking questions from Twitter as well as the live audience.

A few weeks before the show I received an email from Jordan indicating that the venue had oversold the show and were eliminating everyone's +1's from the guest list. At first I was a little miffed, but I still had a ticket and I had a friend who was already going (more on that in a second) so I wouldn't be flying solo. Arriving at the theater I realized something: the venue has control. The bag check, pat down, electronic wand treatment they were giving people was ridiculous. According to Jordan, they weren't even allowed a merchandise table, which is unfortunate as I was going to leave Kev a gift that I made from my alphabet photography:

"SMOD" by Andrew F. Butters
http://andrewsalphabet.com

I lied and said I was only in the possession of a cell phone, and no camera and took my seat. Front row, just to the right of center:

Row AA is good, right? Why yes it is!

Kev doing his thing. Mewes lounging on the couch.
I decided in advance that I would not go to extraordinary lengths to get Kevin and Jay my photography, or to get to the mic to ask a question. I was going to just sit and enjoy the event, and am I ever glad I did. I had a front row seat to a one of a kind event surrounded by TV cameras and hundreds of other great fans. My friend, who recently quit his job and is now writing full time had other plans.

Robert Chute wrote a book, Self-help for Stoners, and really wanted to get to the mic and give Kevin the book (to whom he had dedicated it, along with Joe Rogan). Well Robert had his moment, and he didn't make a giant douche of himself (which is easy to do when your host does a lot of poop jokes). I completely failed Robert when I didn't get a picture or video of it! For this I completely apologize and can only say that Kevin was completely gracious upon receiving the book. I was so close to the stage that when Robert handed the book to him I could see Kev off point to the cover and then hear him say, "Oh yeah, I know you!". So, go read this book (I'm talking to you too Kevin!) Don't let the title fool you, even if you're not into smoking pot, the book is great.

So one thing Kevin wanted to do with the show was get in a lot of questions. This would probably be the only downside I saw to the event. Personally, when I go see Kevin Smith I go because he often answers a question with a 45 minute anecdote that leaves you gasping for air, holding your sides, peeing your pants laughing. Because he was answering rapid fire questions in an effort to get as many in as possible (presumably to ensure interaction and continued interest from the remote theaters watching) the responses, while well put together, genuine and honest, just weren't the type that are in Kevin's wheelhouse. As such, moments felt rushed, which is hard to do for a 3 hour event, and he didn't get the chance to really work up the audience and deliver many "hit 'em out of the park" punch lines.

All in all though, it was a remarkably enjoyable experience, and Kevin's love for Toronto and Canada in general comes through quite naturally, even when he's not plugging his final movie, a Canadian tale about hockey titled "Hit Somebody". I can say for sure I'll go see it, and so will at least a few thousand other Canadians who watched Kevin and Jay rock the stage at the Scotiabank Theater last night.
~