POV: Sparks

The more I learn of the world, the more I find myself dulled in the face of it. Tired as these leaves in the park

of a year that has proven itself a shadow of the last; while simultaneously reinvigorated by what I have come to know. The push-pull of ignorance and awareness.

(I am learning, still – there is a middle ground.)

My new Twitter account is an excellent port of call, for finding friends and intel alike (though what I plan to do with all of this research, remains to be seen.) As for the friends, they are the silent smile of the mind, the lifting heart.

It is more an inertia of the soul that holds me back, with the knowledge that others have come before in better words, and will come again thereafter. Oh I know, it’s a terrible excuse to make – but why sully the ground with more leaves?

And how is it that I don’t have a problem at all with my friends speaking out, yet can’t seem to define my truth?
There is white noise upstairs again.

With all my concern for the world, the flow of information quickens the blood – I am still excitable, a self-propagating cycle of combustible tension and weariness. Social networking is a blessing and a curse, and I watch my own actions with a wiry grin, knowing full well what is going on; what dutiful part I will end up playing, in continuing the vortex. There are others to consider, too. Their problems, their glowing embers of happiness, which I must not extinguish.

Am I quietening my voice out of consideration, or is it the re-emergence of self-denial of my opinions? Is this concern for the world only a kaleidoscopic view of personal worries and fears? Am I only distracting myself?

These are things I wonder at every day. I would like to think that I am more humanitarian than to use the world for a cracked looking-glass.

The death of Steven Sotloff was one such occasion, when the knowledge rammed itself home between my eyes – a sudden revelation, as the news spilled out onto Twitter. There are stars enough at times such as these, and – for all that I had sparks to scatter – I logged off instead, and tried to be still and quiet inside.

More a weariness, my friends. It has been a year for traumatic events, turn-turn again. There were no words I could find that would have made Steven’s murder any more credible. Audible silence felt like a more acceptable frame, for a portrait of the soul.

Needless to say, I gave him a prayer, as I did with James Foley; and for David Haines, too, still a captive of IS; and for all those whose names will forever escape me, because they have not been reported so assiduously, and I did not know them and I was not there

… And it is still my world, with people who are no longer people but walking death, with knives for hands, and enmity for any who go against their monochrome tide; with those who would enter a conflict zone to bring back the tears and dust caught in the cracked lines of the face of a child, who has no concept of the breaking-broken world around her.


And we honour them in the only way we know how, when the thread is cut and the news leaks out as poison to the heart, in content that goes beyond words: with memories of the person, their actions and words, as opposed to their end. With media blackout.

Social networking can still bear dignity in death. It is possible.

But what of the times when that vortex is power, when the information carried forward is a freedom of expression and an outstretched hand of aid?

Within minutes of the news hitting Twitter of an Estonian counter-intelligence offical having been abducted and taken to Russia, a hashtag-star was born in #EstoniaKidnap, and scattered across the sky in tweets and retweets. While some information may be misconstrued or falsified, the end justifies the means in human judgement of authority. This is why gearing the (currently reverse-chronological) Twitter timeline towards a Facebook-style curated algorithm, is a bloody bad idea. It would lack the clarification skills necessary for the truth to emerge.

“It’s true, Twitter can be rife with rumors, some false, especially at times of protests, disaster or other crises. But the speed with which the correct information is also surfaced is even more impressive, and only possible because the network quickly surfaces it, with each node filtering news through judgement and experience. (Of course—this depends on your network and perhaps Twitter can help users construct a better, more diverse, less homophilic network by suggesting different kinds of users, rather than the ones already like the ones a person follows. Redundancy restricts networks whereas diversity enriches them).” – Zeynep Tufekci (@zeynep)

Estonia is a member of NATO, skilled in cybersecurity and Russian counter-intelligence (from long experience.) At the summit in Wales, hardline decisions have been made. Whether these are followed through remains to be seen, but – given the current mood, biting down on aggression rising out of the Middle East and Russia – calling the 28-state bluff, might be something to reconsider.

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