Monday, September 30, 2019

New Follower!

"New Follower!" "New Follower?" "New Follower ¯\_(ツ)_/¯" How do you read it?

Personally? For who knows how long, I worked in an industry that actively inoculated its members to be suspicious of new contacts, cautioning us that there was a lot of potentially career-ending paperwork that accompanied making friends with a non-citizen. "Each of you and each of those around you are potential targets." This coincided with the rise of social media, wherein anybody -- even computer programs -- could appear as a friendly stranger or even as someone you know, and those someones you know could appear as other identities online. And after that, I worked in an industry that sometimes leveraged that.

I remember one day popping open a virtual machine with anonymizing software to check a few details of a suspicious new follower and to help contain any damage that might make its way in from clicking a malicious link. What made the contact suspicious? It was primarily suspicious because it was a new follower ("Why would anyone follow?") and because it wasn't obviously machine-crafted nonsense. After all, what could be more suspicious than a potentially legitimate, authentic human being -- especially when they're so few and far between?

I honestly don't know how many hours I lost over the years scrutinizing individual contacts. What I also don't know is if I'm better off for having habitually lived that way.

This morning, my phone is off the hook with notification alarms. Yesterday, I popped open a popular social media site and I scrolled and scrolled and scrolled until the page was filled with a thousand suggested contacts. I popped open a browser console window, I examined the page's details, I wrote a few lines of javascript, and I hit return. With that final keystroke, one thousand invites were on their way...

... and the phone began to chirp: Bling! Bling! Bling!... It was quiet overnight -- largely due to "quiet hours," it seems, as the alarms resumed at 7 A.M.

It was clear that some were auto-responding and others were close by their phones or computers. Reviewing some of those early responses, I didn't recall knowing them and presumably they didn't recall me either, so indiscriminate acceptance.

There are pleasant surprises in there too, people I'd lost touch with. I see there are pending invites to people who I would never deliberately follow for any number of reasons, but who knows how it will turn out? Once that final keystroke landed, the status quo was disrupted; there's nothing to do now but handle what comes...

... which is fundamentally not different than any other day -- but maybe with a different perspective.

Now to think that there may be someone enjoying a morning coffee now, suspiciously eyeballing this rare invitation to connect, wondering what it means...

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

“We have always been at war with Eurasia.”

In another blog post with a more business focus, "Take Time to Reflect" (link), I encounter the realization that today, 18-years after the 9/11 attacks, we may have freshly minted adults joining the U.S. Armed Services. Soon enough, many of them may be far from home in support of missions and their derivatives that are rooted in events that occurred before they were born.

Some karma has momentum rooted in lore and embraced as one's raison d'etre. How often to we pause to check our assumptions as well as our compass? How often do we ask ourselves "Why?" How often do we either re-validate or reconsider?

So, when you take time to reflect, reflect fully, as this may always be your last, precious opportunity to embrace your fate or to change it.