Thursday, March 19, 2015

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,

Dear Mr Zuckerberg,

As a customer of your Facebook and Instagram services I wish to provide you with the following feedback and possible improvements to your services.

Whilst Facebook is far from perfect and your recent changes are particularly irritating (and already well documented everywhere) I still thank you for this service which enables me to keep in contact with relatives and friends all around the world. Admittedly, there is more of a tendency to share distressing world news or other people's stories nowadays instead of the preferable 2006-style model of updating statuses with the riveting details of ones day such as "Melanie is now eating a lobster and enjoying it very much". However, since joining "The Whippet Appreciation Society" facebook page, the emotional distress incurred as a result of bad news bombardment has been alleviated substantially. Sandwiched between inflammatory political rants and the horrific stories of children in detention centres are now cute photos of Whippets which really takes the edge off all of the bad news and has elevated my Facebook experience enormously.

Image by Paul Croes

It puts a smile on your face doesn't it?

Whilst I would never want to be blind to the atrocities of the world, I feel the old fashioned practice of popping on the TV for the 6.30 pm news or a quick read through a reputable news source just once a day is enough, although the latter is fast becoming a thing of fiction too is it not?

Suffice to say, I am happy to continue utilising Facebook at my leisure. Each of my 346 Friends are indeed friends and people I know in real life, except for 5 bloggers that I have not met yet but let's face it, after 4 years of reading their blogs I feel like I know them more intimately than that girl I went to school with in Year 1. My main point here is that I know all of these people and the practice of "unfollowing" or "unfriending" either doesn't  happen or there is a perfectly acceptable reason for the "unfriending" such as the ex-husband of a girlfriend running off with the secretary and wishing to cut ties with his ex-wife and all of her friends. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

Which brings me to Instagram and the main reason for my letter. Despite Instagram being an overall enjoyable and positive experience, this one pesky business of "unfollowing" has been the source of some minor distress over the years but I think I've found an easy solution which may help the more sensitive souls of the world - "the Exit Survey".

The Exit Survey is similar to the ones you go through with an employer upon leaving a job in an attempt to leave both sides feeling all warm and fuzzy regardless of whether you have been sacked for misconduct or decided to throw in the towel in a disgruntled huff. I'm sure you are familiar with this practice Mr Zuckerberg being the CEO of some 70,000 employees.

The "Exit Survey" will give the Instagram user a multiple choice list of reasons they are about to unfollow someone, which will then be sent to the person unfollowed. Whilst this may be unpleasant, it would be preferable to the moments of life wasted wondering why you have been unfollowed - "have I done something to upset them?", "was it that photo of the gumtree that tipped them over the edge?" or "was I absent from Instagram for too long?". Upon pressing the "unfollow" button there would first be a prompt that says "are you sure you wish to unfollow X?" which would at the outset prevent 2-year olds from mindlessly unfollowing half of your followers by accident, a situation that has been known to happen around these parts. If you confirm "yes" to the prompt then you would be directed to a series of multiple choice reasons for unfollowing.

To assist, I have made a start on your survey following a brief conversation with 2 girlfriends over coffee this morning as to possible reasons one would want to unfollow someone:

"I have unfollowed you because:

a) I have left the world of Instagram and deleted my account. 
b) You unfollowed me.
c) I followed you but you never bothered to follow me back and I prefer my social media exchanges to be based on mutually beneficial friendships, except if you are Sam Heughan. Sam does not need to follow back.
d) I no longer have an interest in taxidermy/antique lace/hermit crabs [insert former hobby here].
e) You are a robot and not a real person. I only want to be social with humans.
f) I used to find you inspiring but if I see another photo of your Sunset/Rose/Offspring/House/Lifestyle [insert object of beauty here] I'm going to poke my eyes out with a fork. I'm insanely jealous and can't bear to see another photo of that again. It's me, not you.
g) Your curated life and the hours you spent arranging your raisins on the plate with that whimsical caption was verging on the ridiculous. It's you, not me.
h) I only want to see beautiful photos with horizons that are horizontal. I'm sure you're a wonderful person. Let's still have coffee.
i)You are now posting too many photos a day and clogging up my feed so that in the 2 minutes I allow for scrolling I can't see the photos of everyone else's breakfast or laundry drying on the line. I still love you.
j) You have bought followers and I find this action a bit weird and I no longer feel the same about you.
k) I followed you because of that photo you posted of the Sloth eating the Strawberry but ever since that photo all you post are photos of stairwells. I wanted more sloth.
l) You haven't "liked" or "commented" enough on my photos and I need more interaction from you. 
m) You are "liking" and "commenting" too much and too soon on every single one of my photos and I find this behaviour a little stalkerish and needy. I can't cope with it anymore. 
n) I followed you when you displayed an interest in my product/workshop/service etc but once you handed over your hard-earned cash I didn't need to follow you anymore. That's business, sorry.
n) You unfollowed me after taking my money and I have an ethical problem with you now. That's a very odd business strategy if ever there was so I need to unfollow you.
o) None of the above. I have no idea why I want to unfollow you. I follow and unfollow willy nilly without any thought or emotional attachment to the person behind the photos. It's just Instagram. Harden up Princess.
p) Your comments and responses on each of your photos are the length of a novel and clogging up my feed. You seem very chatty, have you thought about blogging?

What do you think Mr Zuckerberg? This new era of social media is a tricksy thing to navigate. Perhaps it's only natural to feel a bit cynical about it as the years go on.

I still remain your loyal customer,



PS: Here is someone else with some interesting thoughts on technology, AKA "who pleases me today, who shall I delete"

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

You can do anything in 12 weeks......or not.

I finished the Exploration Station pattern by the fabulous Stephen West over Summer and as far as knitting experiences go it was a truly enjoyable one. Lots of soothing garter stitch rows to begin with followed by some new-to-me knitting techniques and interesting stitch combinations to keep things interesting. I stretched the thing to oblivion during the blocking process as I do like an oversized shawl but it may not have been the best idea as the Brioche section looks a little too stretched now. The more eagle-eyed knitters out there will also spot the mistakes - the first row of yarn-overs in the white edging is a bit off and the stripy section before that is much shorter than it should have been thanks to the Whippet destroying the remaining navy blue yarn. The i-cord bind-off took forever and a day but all can be forgiven because it did create the loveliest finished edge. I really love how it turned out and I wore it for the first time tonight at the local Village Association drinks.

I also just recently finished reading "The Light  Between Oceans" by M. L. Stedman. It is the story of a Lighthouse Keeper and his wife living on a remote island off Western Australia. It is a heartbreaking story about love and loss and about right and wrong. I had to check my own morality a few times along the way, often siding with the wrongdoers, or at least empathising with them. It's apparently going to be turned into a feature film but filmed here in Tasmania instead of Western Australia.  It will definitely make for some compelling viewing.


In other news, we are getting to the pointy end of the farm development with just 12 weeks to go until we open. Life is going to change in a way that I can't really imagine but I do know that whenever there is a 12 week period before a deadline or a life-changing event my brain goes into overdrive compiling a list of things that need to be done. Because everyone knows that 12 weeks is the magic number. A shorter length of time isn't long enough to achieve the goal and any longer than 12 weeks then one loses motivation. This is what I plan to do in the next 12 weeks:

1) Knit myself my first jumper. 
2) Lose those few kilos that have been hanging around these past few years
3) Do a crash course in self love and accept the fact that I have been putting off 1) until 2) has been achieved and that maybe I just need to embrace this new body shape of mine as my new 'normal'
4) Embark on a complete house declutter. 
5) Train the puppy entirely and wean him off book spines, shoes and wooden toys
6) Finish painting the kitchen
7) Read the 4 novels that are sitting on my bedside table.
8) Do a course in Floral Arranging and Bee-keeping, a Barrista course, a course in small business management, MYOB accounting, a course in time-management skills, a course in 'getting back into the workforce after a decade of child-rearing" and a course in "fitting it all in" but only if I have time.
9) Read the entire Harry Potter series to the boys at bedtime
10) Be a fabulous wife, mother, dance mum, soccer mum, friend. Heck, just be fabulous all the time.

And pigs may fly.

You may be able to do anything in 12 weeks, but surely not everything. The fact that I couldn't recall any previous goals successfully reached within a 12 week period should have sent alarm bells off but it was the look on my Husband's face that alerted me to my insanity as I  rattled off all of the things I felt I had to get done.

Or not.

Perhaps instead I might just carry on as normal. Do less rather than more. I think I'm going to spend this time recovering from this stressful development period and just focus on doing one thing at a time, finishing what I've started, resting when I can and staring out the window at the view as much as I like. I'm not going to do anymore lists. Things will get done when they get done. 

I'm joining Ginny and all the other knitters and readers over here today.

Shawl notes ravelled here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Smile of Sunflowers

I have a confession. I don't really like yellow flowers. However, show me a field of glorious yellow Sunflowers and I will profess my love for them in a thousand different languages. I love them so much I walk down to them everyday and just stare at them for ages. It may be a case of 'housework aversion" but I'd rather call it "choosing to put myself in the way of beauty" as said by Laura Dern in the movie "Wild".  I think there's something in that.

It was my only non negotiable request with the farm project. "Can we please just set aside a patch for some Sunflowers?". Although we are trying to use every square meter of land for productive uses who can argue against the value of a beautiful field of Sunflowers? No one. As it turned out, there were two wedges of land between the 3 sections of Orchard and it had "Mel's Sunflowers" written all over them. Flynn calls them "pretties" and everyday he says "more pretties t'day" as the number of yellow happy faces increases in the paddock.

Sunflower fields are in the photo albums of my childhood, stemming from visits to my Great Grandparent's home in Idaho where there were fields of Sunflowers and Black-eyed Susans dotted around the countryside. And then there was Anne of Green Gables, my favourite childhood book which was then turned into one of my favourite childhood TV series. When I lived in Canada I took a trip to Prince Edward Island specifically to visit Green Gables and walk the fields that Megan Follows had done in the series. There were Sunflowers all through the garden of "Anne's" cottage which left a lasting impression on me. One day, I thought, I will have a garden with Sunflowers.

I was trying to find the collective noun for Sunflowers but had no such luck. A "chorus of Sunflowers" or a "happiness of Sunflowers" perhaps? Watching their sunny heads bob from side to side in the breeze made me think a "jive of Sunflowers" would be a pretty apt noun for them until I spotted "A thousand splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini sitting on the bookshelf and thought "a splendour of sunflowers" would describe them even better.  I then went back to how they make you feel when you see them and decided it would have to be a "smile of Sunflowers" for the title of this Post. It was either that or "Are you sick of my Sunflowers yet?". If anyone is following me on Instagram, I truly apologise for the Sunflower spam. I'm ready to move on now.

Whatever the collective noun may be, I love Sunflowers. A lot.