social media

I was pretty down on twitter last year. I still feel the same in many ways. I still think that the new forms of social media are fattening us, turning us slow and unable to digest any more than a 140 character summary of real thought. But over the course of the year, there have been a few times to pause and re-evaluate my position.

Seeing how social media have been affecting the way that information flows over the course of the past year has been interesting. Seeing how people have used it to communicate information (and misinformation), organize and connect has brought it to a point where it no longer seems like it's just pointless shouting.

Just a couple months after my original tirade, I went home for my brother's wedding, and to the first day of the Jesusita fire. Information was hard to get, and the local news could only be so updated. Watching twitter though we were able to track to the movement of the fire, see where road closures were, and hear what houses had been taken. All in real time, and all with a relatively high degree of accuracy. It was interesting, and kind of cool.

I also had a conversation with my friend Shane about twitter in the months that followed. His take was, although there is a lot of pointlessness on twitter, sometimes those pointless moments are what connect people most. I think that rings very true with some of the same ideas that I've had.

Mindy and Di know tried to convince me that birthdays are awesome because it's a day where everyone celebrates you. I countered with "I'd rather be celebrated a little bit, every day!" (to which they then, and now, occasionally pause and say "let's take this moment to celebrate Lyle") But, I think the ideas are interlinked.

I just finished reading The Irresistible Revolution in which one of the authors main theses is that true Christianity is doing small things with great love. It's through these small acts that we can make an actual impact. Perhaps one far greater than just a few big acts(It was, by the way, a really interesting read. He touches a lot on the relationship between the poor and the rich, the importance of community, and points out places where individuals can make a huge difference)

I think my Peace Corps experience also reflects this. Maybe we didn't dig as many wells as some of the larger aid organizations. But I do think our effect, being involved in the lives of those we were near was more lasting.

A bit disjoint of an argument, perhaps, but my point is that maybe I've been thinking of it all wrong. Big things like long blog posts and full photo albums are hard. Small things are easier, and maybe all the more appreciated. (after all, I probably would skim most of what I've written if I weren't me!) Maybe I should pay more attention to the people 'near' me.

I'm afraid the approach still seems self important to me. The new era of social media seems to point to a "if you want to be friends with me, you have to follow me where I go." Then, the old social rules may not apply. There seems to reciprocity in this new age, and for every friend request you send one comes in.

Maybe social media is less about 'me' and more about 'us'.

I can get on board with that.

So yes, I've opened up a twitter account. I have it linked with my facebook status, so you can get things there as well.

I'm still not fully convinced that it's not all pride and techno-lust that drives social media. But, let's experiment.

where did all the milk go?

I'm not a huge milk drinker, but now and again a glass is nice. If I have some of Ailin's delicious cheesecake brownies frozen for times of great need (which until about last week I did), or the time to go over to USA Donuts for a taste of mapley heaven (which I sometimes do) I like to have milk.

Sadly dairy drama seems to be a theme in my life overseas. First the butter debacle in Japan, and now the milk misunderstanding between Thailand and Cambodia.

Relations between these two nations have never been great, but they're something brewing as of late. Thailand and Cambodia have both recalled their ambassadors as a result of a conflict after Cambodia's prime minister appointed former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra as a special economic advisor.

Why is this man a big deal? Shinawatra has been convicted in absentia of various crimes by the current Thai government, and they demand his extradition. Cambodia refuses.

All of this on the shoulders of the already tense matter of the land surrounding the Preah Vihear Temple which is claimed by both countries.

ASEAN announced yesterday that it would not intervene in this situation.

On the ground people are talking about it, but the streets don't really seem to be buzzing. What it means in my life is that existing stocks of Thai products are dwindling. I haven't been able to find my much needed supply of canned Nescafe, and fresh products like delicious Thai milk have been difficult to find. Annoying for the moment, but I do pray that nothing escalates further. I feel Cambodia's economic situation doesn't warrant making ALL of its neighbors angry. Shinawatra may be a valuable economic advisor, but is he as valuable as TRADE?

Only time will tell.

ANZ

I would just like to say that I love my bank. Mindy knows well. Every time we're out I'm always pointing out one of the many, many ATMs located around Phnom Penh. They're really all over the place! It's so awesome! You can withdraw in US currency or Cambodian riel. You can use your ATM card at almost any fancy restaurant or shop. AND the staff is very nice.

For example, I forgot my PIN number and the ATM ate my card. I went in today expecting to have to fill out tons of paperwork and wait 3 weeks to get it back or some such nonsense. Really though, I just had to sign one paper, show ID and I was done. It took literally 3 minutes. And the lady was so nice, reassuring me that many people forget their PINs and it's no big deal.

The one annoying thing, is that my ATM card is restricted to Cambodia. I think I can apply to get one that will work in other countries as well. (ANZ is an Australian bank, I believe) Still though, it's worlds apart from Ecobank in Benin! Although, to be fair to Ecobank, they did introduce ATMs while I was there. I just never signed up for a card. But, I don't think they even installed an ATM card in Parakou until like a month before my service ended, so I didn't see the point.

I suspect ANZs coverage outside of Phnom Penh is somewhat less, although they do say they have ATMs in Battambang and Siem Reap.

That's it. No more bank talk.