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Why I Boycott Twitter

Today I said farewell to Twitter. This network is great in some ways but when it comes to making them make users follow their rules it’s not.

I’ve had a love affair with Twitter – it provided me with an opportunity to quickly post about what happened around me and even get things done. Despite the 140-character limit, or maybe thanks to it, Twitter had a better reach than blogs and a wider audience than Facebook. The relationship was built on the public premise of writing for anybody just like in a blog. No friends and privacy settings. I just wrote on the go when I stumbled across stuff.

At the time when I joined Twitter, it was popular among local authorities. The mayor made his subordinates join and react so that people received a tool to report and ask. It worked. I was skeptical and still is about the Twitterocracy, when the only way you can get the road paved, public transport come, and garbage taken away is by writing to bureaucrats on Twitter. But if it helps then why not use whatever we are given. The mayor left, though, and with him, Twitterocracy died – bureaucrats no longer had a stick over their heads that made them read and respond. But the love affair continued.

Social networks have some power of widening your reach. You can get new readers, fans, and support in all corners of the world like you cannot do with the best of your blog writing. At least, you can do it quicker and better. But you can also find enemies and haters like never before. Lack of privacy and lack of control over who can respond to you comes at a cost. Some may never realize that in their blissful ignorance of writing about cats and flower arrangements. But guys like me – political, opinionated, non-conformists – are in a soup.

Of course, you can block users and never hear from them again. Trouble is times in my country are troublesome when it is best to know what is going on when and where it is going on rather than be left unaware of what is cooking. Besides, you never know who’s real and who’s fake. Chances are people are just hateful and jealous. But in today’s Russia, I wouldn’t take my chances on every freak.

There is support and the system of reporting accounts that violate the official rules. The thing is, this system doesn’t work. No matter how many times and how hard you try to tell them, it is all useless. Twitter prefers to ban parody accounts rather than accounts of haters, assaulters, gay bashers, spammers, and offensive characters.

All right, I take it back on the latter – being offensive is subjective. But you cannot mistake abusive behavior in forms of harassment, hateful conduct, inciting others to harass another account, or creating accounts whose primary purpose is inciting harm towards others. These are all definitions from Twitter Rules, by the way. And all these rules were violated.

But Twitter was unable to “determine a clear violation” of their own rules. Well, I take it that guys in San Francisco do not read foreign languages. But I sure hoped that such big companies employ foreign speakers in their international offices. After all, I am not speaking of some remote dying language. And the language I meant was full of hate in all forms. It was screaming of abuse aimed solely at me. Well, four years ago the account in question hated more people than me (including hate in terms that could be treated in court as dubious), then it fell dormant and now has awakened with the one and only target.

I don’t want to be a target of somebody’s hate and jealousy, somebody’s paid or volunteer abusive behavior. At least, not on my time/newsline. Life is short, and I am old enough to cherish some quiet rather than unnecessary screams.

So, being unable to make Twitter see a clear violation of their own rules I decided to leave. Three of four accounts are gone – I temporarily left only one where I gather links from news outlets on a narrow professional topic. Others are gone for good. I would rather part with almost 800 subscribers and several years of Twitter history than face constant abuse. By the way, gone are Twitter sharing buttons on my blogs – you can share manually only. I do not wish to promote the service that abused me by letting someone abuse the rules.

Farewell, blue bird. Let you chirp amongst your haters, your gay-bashers, your freaks, and your abusers. I guess you are in good company when they say your financial prospects are bleak. No, I do not wish you the fate of MySpace or other ghosts from the past. I only wish you had followed your own rules. I know it is hard, but in this case, it was pretty straightforward. Anyway, now I do not care if you fly or get eaten by some fat cat – deal with your own shit yourself.

Oh yes, and fuck you! Right, I said it, and my blog official rules do not prevent me from doing so.

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Nyetflix

Netflix came to Russia. To me, nothing has changed really. I tried to check and immediately said “nyet” (“no” in Russian).

It is no secret that American television has won the world with its numerous series. Hey, American television is beating American cinema, it might sometimes seem. There are many reasons for that. Quality scripts, gripping action, good acting, ability to watch it from the comfort of your couch and pajamas, no need to say goodbye to your favorite characters after an hour and a half.

I am no exception still spending costly dollars on the next seasons of a number of shows. Well, I haven’t even watched all of those I already bought. Good old DVDs, Amazon, region-free DVD-player, 5.1 system to enjoy all the benefits of surround sound and sound effects.

Most of my friends have long abandoned any physical discs in favor of torrents. Some people might even pay for some kind of free or paid streaming services. Internet speed nowadays allows for both options. American television comes free of charge and fresh off the camera to Russian homes to the majority of viewers. Sometimes they wait for the Russian dubbing and subtitles, but the advanced public is quite able to consume the original soundtrack whenever a new episode comes out.

Not me. Not that I am scared much of being caught downloading anything illegally. Not that original soundtrack is unavailable (I do not watch anything in Russian on principle). Not that the quality is bad. It is just a matter of habit and principle. Consider me the last standing fortress of legality and old media types. I have my reasons. For one, DVDs do not eat traffic, burn electricity on having a computer work 24/7, do not hook me to possibly unreliable Internet services or connection. They allow me to watch and re-watch any episode with a few clicks from a remote. I can actually go back to any shows any number of times without having to re-download or re-connect. It certainly comes at a cost of space eaten by physical discs and at a cost of slight inconvenience of having to deal with physical media. I would probably go with all my film and TV library compacted to a single external hard drive. But on the other hand, physical media gives some sort of connection to the content, albeit subjective.

I order DVDs from both US and British Amazon depending on the origin of shows and prices. Plus I sometimes buy films in Russia. This means that I have DVDs with various regional codes. I don’t even understand how anti-trust authorities worldwide let corporations instill those regional coding in the first place. Corruption, I guess, with huge bribes and not-giving-a-shit-attitude. If you think of it, geoblocking is worse than piracy. Anyway, I can survive only with a region-free player.

But here comes Netflix. As I’ve said the connection is getting better, TV-sets allow for all types of connections. Maybe this is the solution for the space and price issues? Why not try to make a shift towards streaming, especially a legal one if I still want to hold the fortress?

The reason the switch is impossible is akin to the issue of DVD geoblocking. Netflix doesn’t let you watch their entire library, it all depends on the country you are in. You can use VPN and whatever else is there to circumvent the limitations, you’d say. Yes, but why should I bother and fool the system just because it fools me?

If Netflix doesn’t want to show me everything they’ve got, I don’t want to sign up and pay for the limited service. If Netflix doesn’t even want me to see what’s in their catalog before signing, I don’t even want to sign up for a free month. I’ll continue to be quite happy with a region-free DVD player that doesn’t limit the DVDs I can watch on it. A vivid example is House of Cards that you cannot legally watch on Netflix in Russia. Fortunately, I have the first three seasons on DVDs. Besides, I am sure that the range of shows I buy is much wider than the range offered in even the entire Netflix library.

Hence, come the limitations of such services to the public in general, not just me. For one, Netflix limits you to the shows it has (which is not all shows). Further on, Netflix limits you to even a smaller amount of content just because you happen to be from the wrong country. Is it customer-friendly? Certainly not, double times not. If Netflix says “nyet” to me, I say “nyet” to Nyetflix.

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Let Tits Win Over Dumbwits

It was rather bizarre. I was lying on my sofa chilling out with some YouTube videos. But I could very well hear what my mom was listening to on TV. Today it was rather quieter than usual, probably because the topic was not Ukraine for a change but the possibility of a nuclear war. Surely, the one that America has always planned and is ready to wage against Russia any minute.

Ecstatic TV presenters and their schizophrenic or paranoid (I am not very good at differentiating between forms of dementia) guests and so-called experts (i.e. experts in making up theories of how the whole world is wrong, and we are always right) gathered to talk about (not discuss) whether nuclear war is a distant or rather not so distant future for us unless Russia stops its enemies (mostly by virtue of its righteousness, I guess).

The synopsis is typical. America would have surely tried one of its A-bombs on the Soviet Union if there had been one more to spare at the time. Stalin should have used an A-bomb in Germany (if by any chance we had it at the time). America has only pretended to curb its nuclear potential while making sure the Russian one is curbed. That is just a typical sly American way of tricking us into oblivion, but we won’t let them. Yet just look at how those Americans have infiltrated Europe and even our former republics (i.e. those states that should belong to us) with nuclear warheads and other missiles.

As an additional backdrop to all that rhetoric came the news that Russian internal forces (i.e. paramilitary police) have placed additional orders for grenade guns (presumably for dealing with any protest) and that the Russian TV complex in Moscow has just been fenced with barbed wire.

I couldn’t help but overheard some bullshit (like I always do) and then I tried to concentrate on those YouTube videos. They were ones from the latest Victoria’s Secret Show.

The first video (above) was fantastically bright and cheerful. It might have the same bright colors as the ones of a nuclear explosion, but I hope to never be able to actually compare those for myself. It (the video) was full of life, joy, and love.

Another video was reminiscent of Russia a lot, namely of Russian winter – thankfully not the nuclear winter, but a good old frosty one. It was even more beautiful as this is just the season (though there isn’t any snow in my area now). But this visual of warm furry hats and mittens coupled with snowflakes and smiley faces, and mixed with dynamic music was again in stark contrast with what I couldn’t help but overhear from the TV across the room.

I was lying on my sofa watching those YouTube videos and overhearing that TV talk-show and couldn’t help but think that it must be so much better to be among nice tits than among wannabe intellectuals (i.e. dumbwits).

Models are believed to be generally dumb (not that I agree). However, I suppose that it is better to be believed dumb and not be than be dumb and showcase it on national television. It is better to be modeling underwear and make people happy than sitting fully clothed radiating hatred. Such hatred is often more dangerous than those grenade guns that Russian police are getting ready to fire at its own people.

I hope that dumbwits stay inside that TV box inside that TV complex behind a barbed wire fence and that the world around will gleefully enjoy the explosion of color, the dynamics of music, and the feast of love.

After all, even Liberty that led people in Eugène Delacroix’s famous painting was not ashamed to show her bare chest. Because tits are better than dumbwits. Let them win!