Paul Bernal's Blog

A story about Facebook went around twitter last night that provoked quite a reaction in privacy advocates like me: Facebook, it seems, is experimenting with getting people to ‘snitch’ on any of their friends who don’t use their real names. Take a look at this:

Facebook has had a ‘real names’ policy for a while: this is what their ‘Help Center’ says on the subject:


People in my field have known about this for a long time – it’s been the cause of a few ‘high profile’ events such as when Salman Rushdie had his account suspended because they didn’t believe that he was who he said he was – but few people had taken it very seriously for anyone other than the famous. Everyone knows ‘fake’ names and ‘fake’ accounts – my sister’s dog has a Facebook account – so few believed that Facebook was going to bother enforcing…

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Words have a power all their own

Words have a power all their own (Photo credit: Lynne Hand)

Making text and prose for the sake of having the letters put out there. Creating words so that you have said something, for otherwise the silence would have been too great, too overwhelming, perhaps, and the meaning of those words matters as much as the font you use or the surroundings that you work in.

Writing gives comfort. Someone once told me that “writing crystallizes thoughts and makes them more clear to you”. That may be true, so very true, but the goal, the very reason why you write is still the same as the reason that many others work, eat, travel, talk and do anything at all: you want to feel real, you want to feel that you exist, and those words are there, in front of you, and you but them there, so you must be.

And if there is any chance of making those words seem to have some meaning, some purpose, than you, the writer, should be the one that also has one. For how else could there be meaning in those words if you had not given it? And how could you give meaning to something if you yourself didn’t have any?

So all this writing for the sake of writing is the purpose of itself, it’s the self-fulfilling prophecy of manifestation of the reason of being. And even though it’s kind of dirty, creating something and having that loop back to yourself, justifying the reason of your own existence, it is the perfect pastime in that. For if your writing is even the least bit entertaining, thought provoking or plainly distracting, there may be others willing to read it. Giving a little bit of their precious (for limited) time to your words, in exchange for some sense of humor, some philosophical dissertation or some way into another realm of fantasy, and in that process losing the need to define their own meaning, having just enough layers of abstraction between their sense of purpose and the final provider of that purpose, so that life does not feel as if you are the only one that can define it.

That is indeed not a bad thing, even though it might seem to be, for some. Throughout the ages (at least, that’s what I’ve been told), people have always distracted themselves from this fact, so that they could enjoy the things that are on the first layer of abstraction: the direct sensory input, the first step away from your own thoughts. If they wouldn’t, would there be any target, any movement, any life at all? If the purpose of life, the meaning of the writing and reflection or entertaining is only and only defined in itself, is it not the best thing we can do to create those shiny, distracting loops of entertainment so that we can live up to what we create? Isn’t, then, imagination the greatest good in this world?

So, write, for the sake of writing, if that is what you feel like doing, and bring that means of creation to the world. Even though the purpose may feel like a loop to itself, that is the exact thing that makes this universe spin.

Enjoy it!

This morning, when I was getting ready to leave the train, there was a young mother sitting next to the doors. She held a baby on her arm. And as I passed by, that baby looked up to me with its blue eyes and smiled.

In that instant, I felt as if everything in the world was okay. There is something about the genuine, unconditional smile, that makes you feel appreciated, noticed, valuable.

I have been trying it out all day long: just smile, genuinely smile at random people. No reserves, no side-intentions (look at their eyes!), and you will see that you get a lot of them in return. You can be sure that you made a few people feel good about themselves, and the smiles you’ll see appearing on their faces will certainly have a similar effect on you.

Happy

Happy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was watching this TED talk this morning on the train, it made me think of several things, but especially about the (lack of?) attention to detail in my life, and how I tend to forget stuff that matters to colleagues and friends. I enjoyed watching it, and I will keep you posted about what I am going to do with this in my life (if I don’t forget, hur, hur).

Update: a friend recommended a blog post about building your own mind palace. You might enjoy reading that one as well (I did).