On a mailing list of Group Psychotherapists, there has recently been a discussion about two teenage girls in Australia "who'd posted their fixation with suicide and self-harm on their My Space sites, and on sites of devotees of the 'emo' subculture...[and] hung themselves in the mountains outside of Melbourne."
People wrote to ask, "What was the effect on that MySpace "group"?...Did any members injure (or kill) themselves after this?...Could this have been prevented?"
The following is my response:
Actually, it is all my fault. ;-|
I spend time visiting MySpace. I have my own MySpace page. I've even written on band pages and have a MySpace post about being emo, particularly as it related to the 2006 U.S. Senate race in Connecticut. (But that's another long story.)
But isn't that the reaction that most people have to a suicide, or some horrible shootings somewhere, or other times when people act irrationally and hurt themselves or people around them?
And isn't it much easier to blame it on the culture? Suicides in MySpace are due to the 'emo' culture. Columbine, as we will all recall, was due to heavy metal music, and I'm sure that 'emo' is just the MySpace manifestation of too much heavy metal music.
Nonetheless, we do always come back to what could have been done, and I guess that is a good thing. We should always be looking for ways we can reach out and help those around us a little better. That, I suspect is the real core of the human condition.
31 years ago, this month, I was a freshman in college. I had skipped my senior year of high school, so all my old classmates were seniors back in high school. I received a letter from home where my mother wrote that, by the way, Rocky is missing. Rocky was a girl I had been fond of before heading off to college. Panicked, I called home to get details. She had been walking to the library one evening and never showed up. Over the following month, there were reports of people who thought they had seen her one place or another.
At the end of the month they found her body in a ravine a few towns away. No one ever figured out why this happened. I heard this, from newspaper clippings my mother sent me. They came after the funeral, so I never got my chance to say goodbye.
The day I got the news, I wandered, in shock into my Hebrew class. There was a pop quiz, and at the bottom of the quiz I wrote the Hebrew word for "Why?" The professor, either answering the question of why we have pop quizzes, or coming back with a good Talmudic response to existentialism changed the last letter to become "To Learn".
So, I think about Rocky, and I think about Stephanie and Jodie and I all I can do is hope that I can learn a little and find my chance to help someone around me.
However, it is now Thursday, and I would like to use the map as a starting point for a discussion about Twitter. I was at the OMMA show earlier this week and two things jumped out at me. The first was the eagerness of marketing types to diss Twitter and the second was the lack of interest in conversations online. I think these are related.
As I thought about Twitter, I thought it would be interesting to produce a social map of the connections in Twitter. I wrote a fairly quick program in the mono implementation of C#. This is an open source, free software implementation of the .NET framework. I've been doing a little more programming in mono recently, in part because of my interest in OpenSim which is a "BSD Licensed Open Source project to develop a functioning virtual worlds server platform" similar to Second Life, which is also written in mono.
One of the mono tutorials had an example of scraping a Google page. I modified that to scrape twitter pages. Essentially, I would take each twitter page, scrape out the list of friends, and then for each friend, repeat the process. However, this would produce a very large graph which would include people who are not particularly active twitterers.
So, I threw in a little test. I only selected people that had more than 100 friends and that had more followers than friends. I felt this would give a better relationship between the people that others especially follow.
My first pass didn't have any error checking, and it ran through about twenty different people before I got an error from Twitter. However, it gave me enough data to produce the graph. I have run a subsequent version that captures errors so it can keep on going, and also pauses a second between page requests, so I'm less likely to overload the twitter servers.
That run produced massive amounts of data; too much to reasonable be displayed in a graph, and I'm thinking of doing another pass where I only look at people with more than a thousand followers.
My program wrote out the results in a format that could be fed into Graphviz. Graphviz is a wonderful program to create visual images of graphs. Since Twitter friendships are asymmetrical, that is, I can add you as a friend without you adding me as a friend in return, I used the directed graph capability of Graphviz.
Each time, I started on my own Twitter page, and followed the links. In each run, I very rapidly found my way to Biz Stone, which isn't surprising since Biz is a co-founder of Twitter.
I look forward to creating another map, as well as posting some other reflections on Twitter shortly.
The Digg team is excited to launch new Digg user profiles later tonight, the first of many cool new features rolling out this year.
I've gone in and tweaked my profile, which I'll probably add a link to in the sidebar, as well as changed my settings so that I can (hopefully) blog from Digg.
Update: Digg dropped the <blockquote> tags when I submitted the entry, and it doesn't add categories, so I'm tweaking the post a little. Nonetheless, it is neat to see how it works. I'll see how often I use this as opposed to cutting and pasting.
Recently, Liza Sabater asked the question on Facebook about how people felt about Facebook having public profiles which are searchable by Google. Being the publicity hound that I am, I said that it was probably a good idea and added a link to my Facebook public profile to my list of social networks on the right.
The problem is that they are not showing up when you search SquidWho or Squidoo. I tried deleting and recreating the one for Jim and it didn’t make any difference. Perhaps it is because it is new, hasn’t gotten enough traffic, or simply that there is something weird with Squidoo.
When I tried recreating Jim’s Squidwho page, I saved my first version as XML. Squidoo has a nice and easy way to export a page to XML. However, I can’t find any easy way to import the XML, so it seems pretty useless.
In other news, as did my evening blog surfing, I stumbled across a great posts about 100th ARA Clown Brigade and their action against the KKK. (Hat tip Girly Bits). Wife Power!
I won't forget when Peter Pan
Came to my house, took my hand
I said I was a boy, I'm glad he didn't check
I learned to fly, I learned to fight
I lived a whole life in one night
We saved each other's lives out on the pirate's deck
Yesterday, I received an email inviting me to The Motherhood. Their welcome message says,
If you believe in the power of mothers to make things happen, you're going to love this neighborhood. Come on in and make yourself at home!
Well, I do believe in the power of mothers to make things happen. I spend a lot of time visiting Mommy Blogs around the Internet and I tell all my political friends to step beyond their political blogs and reach out to the Mommy Blogs.
That said, I would like to remind people of my gender. The picture of my white bearded face should make it clear that I am not a Mommy Blogger by most popular definitions. However, Dar Williams helped me put this into proper context. The quote at the top of this post is Dar singing about when she was a boy. The song ends with
And I tell the man I'm with
About the other life I lived
And I say now you're top gun
I have lost and you have won
And he says, "Oh no, no, can't you see
When I was a girl, my mom and I we always talked
And I picked flowers everywhere that I walked
And I could always cry, now even when I'm alone I seldom do
And I have lost some kindness
But I was a girl too
And you were just like me, and I was just like you"
So, to all the Mommy Bloggers out there, either by birth or by conviction, stop by The Motherhood and see if we can save each others lives out on the pirate deck and perhaps even help all of us find some of the kindness that has been lost.