- BarclaysTrade Floor Support Analyst, 2013 - presentIt Support for the Barclays Investment Bank trade floor.
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- Sandown High SchoolMathematics
Life is a journey.
Not just from A to B, from start to finish, but a journey of discovery: discovery of the world around us and, perhaps more importantly, discovery of self - the ongoing realisation of who we are and what we can become.
We are constantly changing.
Just as we evolve so concepts, meanings and understandings evolve with us. We attribute new properties to even basic entities as we realise that they are part of a far wider interplay than we at first imagined.
Everything is connected.
Each event in our lives, no matter how small, has far wider reaching consequences than is at first apparent - the relationships between who we are, what we do and how we make sense of it all grow day by day.
We are an ever changing version of ourselves with each instance existing in the now - infinite upgrades.
How do we change?
We are the result of thousands of "butterfly effects" every day: the choices we make, who we meet, the conversations we have. Every action has implications spiralling out to eternity - a maze of boundless possible futures.
Nothing occurs in isolation and events will result from chains of causation: A -> B -> C -> D. We have to think far beyond the simplistic ideal of cause and effect.
The tiniest deviation, the smallest nudge and we are sent off on a whole new trajectory, never to be able to return as the process of returning itself alters our history, changes us because of the conscious choices we have made.
We are but particles thrown to and fro by the Brownian Motion of life, each collision sending us in a seemingly random new direction.
Life is a journey but one that is comprised of myriad adventures and digressions all contributing their small part to our meandering paths.
Embrace the journey, you never know where it will take you.
We can't help but make comparisons, they are how we learn and develop.
When faced with a new experience or unknown item our brains will try to relate it back to something we have knowledge of.
We use common frames of reference to get our point across to others rather than attempt to explain something completely from scratch.
It is, therefore, no surprise that we apply these tactics to our online behaviours and social networks in particular.
Those who might not be overly familiar with the technology and terminology involved would obviously benefit from analogies, references to existing scenarios with which they might be familiar.
You will frequently here statements like social networks are like the village squares of old where people would go to meet, talk and conduct business.
And so it is with the following analogies that help to illuminate different aspects of social networks.
Social networks are like high school parties.
We have the socially awkward ones who only turn up because they were invited but don't talk to anyone and leave early.
At the other extreme we have the cool kids, always got something to say with others hanging on their every word trying to be part of the "in crowd",
Most just exist in friendship groups, hanging out with the same bunch of people, occasionally saying hi to others when they are asked "aren't you in my class?"
The geeks? They just go off and do their own thing, build their own network because they don't seem to fit in with the rest.
To achieve success you must treat social networks like The Voice, the TV talent show.
To start with you don't know who you're dealing with, you just hear their song, their voice.
You gather people about you who you think will do well and try to build a winning team.
Just like the judges you try to be selective - you don't want too many of the same thing on your team so you pick and choose who to connect with. You need variety to give you a better experience.
Those who display the most talent will always do well, they will get votes (shares, +1s etc.) and establish a following but must be consistent to keep progressing.
Simplifying the explanation of ideas makes them immediately more accessible to a wider audience.
As knowledge and experience grow so the analogies can be left behind.
Or, does eccentric = authentic?
We attempt to be authentic by bringing parts of ourselves to every situation but must invariably leave much of it at the door.
Is it an imposition to try to do more, to show more, to be more of us?
As has been mentioned relatively recently, filters & social protocols dictate how we should act and who we should "be" in given situations. For all the talk of authenticity we are but components of the systems we inhabit. We must play our part within the parameters we are given or the system collapses.
We normally cannot imprint ourselves upon the system unless it is one we control.
We are only able to bring a part of us, mere aspects of who we are - be it ideas, techniques or even things like cunningly hidden items of jewellery, something that doesn't quite adhere to uniform rules - just something to display a sense of individuality, a sign to say "this is me, I'm different."
We want little tell-tale signs visible to those who might be looking for them, cultural or intellectual pointers to somehow indicate that we exist beyond and outside the present moment. Signposts along those interesting paths we may wish to walk if only we had the chance and had someone to walk them with.
In many situations the rules dictated by the system only allow us to go so far without being noticed by the wrong people.
We must be subtle.
Some are lucky enough to exist outside of the systems, maybe they can be truly authentic or, perhaps, this is what we may see as being eccentric - different, at odds with normal.
Think about it for a moment.
We hear talk of suffering their eccentricities or tolerating their quirks but what if eccentrics aren't odd, what if eccentrics are those who have abandoned pretences by whatever means and are genuinely being themselves regardless of external influence or opinion?
True, complete authenticity is the freedom to not care what others think as it does not matter in that moment.
Unfortunately, the majority of us are not in this position. We rely on the systems for our survival - our jobs and livelihoods.
We can only go as far as the system will allow us without being penalised. We cannot bring our full selves to bear as they do not fit. To do so is an imposition.
The imposition of authenticity is the imposition of the self.
Society is in a continual state of flux. As technology advances so our ability to engage around the world in ever more meaningful and constructive ways increases.
We now think nothing of holding conversations with people from all corners of the globe; people we would never have even known existed let alone connect with in such a fashion.
But, despite such individual transition, society itself seems reluctant to accept change and accept these technological breakthroughs for what they are and what they allow us to do.
Businesses and governments have been dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century but society seems determined to cling to the status quo.
Do we need to stop making a distinction between our lives and friends on or offline?
Is one more valid than the other?
We talk about "in real life" and treat online as though it is some sub-existence simply because we are not in each other's physical presence.
Why is this?
Following on from yesterday's thoughts on our multifaceted existences and how these play out online and off, are not our online friends simply another subset of our connections? If our online friends allow us to explore avenues of conversation that are unavailable to us offline then, surely, these people are equally valid regardless of their location, means of communication or degrees of separation.
Despite a lack of proximity or opportunities for face-to-face meetings, well cultivated online relationships can be more significant and productive than many offline so why does society insist on deeming them second class?
Yes, we are social animals who crave presence and the human touch. Yes, a lot of our communication is physical (body language, tone of voice, etc.) but does this mean that online interaction necessarily has to be deemed inferior?
Perhaps we are just living through a period of adaptation, perhaps it is still too soon as much of the world remains adherent to pre-internet rules and values.
A group travels according to the speed of its slowest member, perhaps we just have to wait for the stragglers to catch up.
What is authenticity and can we allow ourselves to be truly authentic? What are the consequences if we do versus the downsides if we don't?
Authenticity and trust as contextual? So true.
I have heard people say they have dropped their masks, that to do this is a representative of authenticity. But they can't, they haven't, it is impossible for them to do so. Because the more dependant they are upon a system the less they can allow themselves to be perceived as a threat to it. This self censorship of true feelings and the true self is the absolute opposite of authenticity.
Therefore authenticity becomes about context, and truth becomes subjective, an abstract. Trust then becomes an extension of only an individual aspect of a person or their content rather than the whole.
To be true to oneself, to actually be authentic, is to risk more than just judgement by strangers, its to risk your ability to even have the conversation at all. It is to risk being shut down. One cannot truly be themselves under such circumstances. One can at best represent a fraction of their totality, a benign fraction that cannot be perceived as a threat to a carefully prepared presentation.
Therefore we must be opaque, and represent that has transparent. We cannot speak our minds freely lest we risk the summary judgment of the Gods or the powers that be, however you prefer to call it.
Though we can see the sun shine upon the trees we must keep our true selves, our true feelings obsured in the shadows or risk getting kicked out of the party. This is not authentic to me, this is not transparency or trust.
So that's what I do. I risk it. I take the chance because it's necessary, I speak what I think and how I feel and damn the torpedoes. If I find myself revoked so be it, at least I was honest, at least I was transparent. At least I didn't comprise myself and my perception of my own integrity.
My advice to anyone working to find their narrative voice or create their own content is take the risk. Be truly transparent, be yourself and tell through your content how you feel, what you think, be yourself.
Otherwise you can only show a fraction on this platform, and another fraction on that one in an endless effort to avoid context collapse or jeopardy. Only through following a person across all the platforms can we truly come to know and understand them. From the sum of all that opacity we find them, find their transparency, learn and know their true authentic selves.
I try to represent my true thoughts and authentic self here, in this place because I like it here, I'm a part of it. If one day you find my profile removed, you will know that in this context, true authenticity is a bad idea after all...
Boredom is a strange beast which stalks us all from time to time, waiting to pounce when the moment is right.
It is a profound emotional state experienced when we have nothing particular to do or have no interest in our current surroundings.
It can occur when our current task is below our level of expertise or if we are in some way prevented from doing the things we really want.
Boredom is unusual in that there is no particular trigger and no definable pattern to its instigation. It is not reliant on a specific set of circumstances in order to kick in - one day we might consider the repetitive nature of a menial task therapeutic, the next it will be the epitome of tedium.
Instead, boredom arrives from the interplay of our minds with our environment, our tasks and our overall mental state.
If we are happy we will be less inclined to experience boredom no matter what task is at hand but if we are miserable anything will seem a chore as we are incapable of making a mental connection with anything.
For my own part, I have a low boredom threshold most frequently triggered by a lack of sufficient stimuli - it sounds a bit vain. This combines with a tendency towards depression to create an almost fugue like state.
Now, we have the greatest computers in existence sat in our heads so, with the mind as our playground, we should never be bored, right?
If only this were the case.
We can normally spend only so long in the sole company of our thoughts without needing to explore further and deeper, requiring the insights of others.
Even groups can become mentally fatigued without fresh input or stimulus.
When faced with such scenarios it is ever a surprise that organisations and employers still adhere to the principal that "you're here to do a job and nothing else".
Boredom is so often a self-induced state as we do not seek the stimuli we require, rather seeming to take a grim pleasure in suffering a stupor-like state.
We should make the most of our mental playgrounds but, when we need someone to give us a push, we have to go out and find them.
Hi all, my main is a 90 tankadin but I'm getting a bit bored with it as well as the aggro that comes with not having done the latest raids etc. and just getting judged/kicked because of it.
I'm thinking of dual speccing with retribution but need to gear up.
Now I could change role and loot priority and hit Timeless Isle for the armour caches or just head for some 5 mans and try to go that route.
What do you think?
Today seems to be analogy day, I've only just left for work but already had two comparisons for social networks pop in my head:
- social networks are like a party, and
- social networks are like The Voice (you know, the TV show)
I'll have to see what I can do with these even though they've probably already been done to death.
Have a great day.
But enough of that...
Have a great day.
Over the past couple of months I've been bouncing an idea around in my head that I have never gotten quite to grips with until last night.
I'm going to call it the identity paradox.
On a social platform we constantly hear the message "just be yourself". Now, a number of recent posts have been about exactly what makes us who we are but this is not entirely the full story.
Open, honest, authentic, genuine - question: how can you be all of these but, at the same time, not really be you?
In going to throw a couple of clichés at you now:
- dress for the job you want and not the job you have
- you can choose your friends but you can't chose your family
What do these have in common? They're both about being in situations you would prefer were different.
Just like dressing for a better job, we want to impress on social networks so adjust the tie, fix our hair and put our best foot forward. We don't want to connect to someone who does nothing but complain so why would anyone want to connect with us if we were continually negative.
In life we align ourselves with people who may share interests, people who (hopefully) don't annoy us and who, crucially, we can easily disengage from relatively easily should things go south - they have no other connection to us than a now terminated friendship.
Family will still be family.
But it goes a stage deeper than this online.
Our family, our work colleagues, our friends, they will only share a certain subset of our interests.
We may be extremely close to family members and have a number of things in common due to that constant proximity but, at the same time, have completely different tastes in films, books, music.
Our friends could be those we grew up with, others we have met along the way because of a shared connection or experience but, again, there will only be a limited crossover between us.
What I'm trying to say is, in life, we might not always be able to really be "us".
We might not be able to discuss the theological influences of the Matrix trilogy with fellow office workers or the finer points of Sartre's notion that man is "condemned to be free" across the dinner table.
In life we are making constant compromises to fit with those around us or the environment we find ourselves in. Circumstance doesn't allow us to fully explore each of the avenues we would wish to walk down.
Social networks allow us to be the version of us we are rarely fortunate enough to be offline. We can entertain our myriad interests without trying to be something we are not - instead, we are actually trying to be something we are. Inside.
We can be open, honest, authentic and genuine online even if our family and friends might never know of such interests. Just because we are not actively able to pursue them offline it doesn't make us false for being a different aspect of ourselves on a social network.
On the face of it, it would seem there is an identity paradox: online we would appear to be claiming we are something that we are not when offline. The truth is, however, that the two don't always align.
Social media allows us to be authentic without ourselves.
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