Social Media and Rights to Association and Assembly

Is social media online actually one of the best ways to work towards weakening the right to association and/or assembly? Okay, okay, stop laughing, seriously.  It seems like maybe it can be.

I will call this right the right to association for short terms, but association and assembly are both involved in my concept.

Social media can certainly have its good aspects, not saying it is inherently evil, but something to consider.

So how would this work? First off, social media makes it so people can “associate” without ever actually getting together, it fundamentally seems to break up the usual concept of “coming together” or “associating.”  Which some people would say is wonderful: a person on one side of the world can virtually support another person they have never met on the opposite side, that certainly has some positive things to it, or so it seems.  But, there is still a fundamental importance to show up, to physically exist and represent yourself in situations.  There are limitations on how far online social media can go.  Limitations on how effective it is for getting people up and moving, reference that Kony 2012 video.  I cannot speak for everywhere but I do know that in my university this video hit like a storm and everyone watched it and the days immediately following everyone was planning on going out whatever night it was and painting the entire city in Kony 2012 stuff.  That day came around, nothing.  Absolutely nothing that I could find anyway. There are limitations to what some electric signals can and will do, supposedly the pen is mightier than the sword, but the sword cuts much deeper and faster.

So that is a short description on how “associating” becomes easier with social media but it thus weakens it.  This weakening can then continue in other ways.

A short reason for weakening the right to association is that social media relies a a very weak link: the internet mostly.  All it takes is a lack of electricity/signal and suddenly social media is gone. The instantaneous, constant connection is lost right then and there.  Those more secret or organic coming together to associate suddenly becomes much slower if not also harder.  Also, this means that those people across the globe will not as easily get information and thus will not be able to “like” or “share” your post to support you and associate with you.

The next few reasons: 1) social media and the internet can be controlled and what you see or read can be limited in various ways, even if the internet is currently un-legislated.  This lack of legislation can also lead to issues in that, 2) situations can arise where some forms of association are found out in some way and then stopped before they begin. There are even more problems that come to mind!

One last sprint of reasons: 3) people not physically showing up for something makes it infinitely easier to ignore the problems that are being discussed, 4) social media allows for incredibly stupid issues to come up as talking points and 5) if physical people are not going to go out to support a protest of some sort to protect rights to association more and more laws can be made to make it harder and harder to properly, physically associate.

1) Control of what is seen or read and limitations I think is fairly easy to understand so I will not go into it.

2) Hacking.

3) Again, the pen may be mightier than the sword, but a sharp tack on a seat makes a person stand up much faster.  Just saying, actual physical things are much more likely to get a reaction it seems.

4) that petition to deport Justin Bieber in the news.  I assume anyone who reads this knows why I consider this stupid.  It is also a waste of time and resources thus weakening responses and information on actual, important things.  Yes it is a right, but if a right is watered-down too much I think legal arguments could be made to weaken them and people will not necessarily fight against them since they are too busy worrying about the aforementioned petition.

5) This one is probably most important.  Along with rights to association, in my mind, comes civil disobedience.  These are two things that can work together to promote positive changes in a country that claims to be democratic.  Rights to association, in some ways require space.  Some forms of association require space in certain places, such as certain buildings.  Other forms though require the ability to associate outside of a certain place, specifically in a “public” space.  These are the more politically inclined groups that need or want to protest and publicly show support or disagreement for something politically or in a social context.

Say some group is organizing to show their disagreement with some random law in an unnamed government.  This group will need people to show up to get their demonstration to mean anything.  If everyone is just on social media though and supports the page in some virtual way yet no one actually is moved to show up the protest itself will just fall flat.  Again, people like to claim the pen is mightier, but a huge crowd of people is much more effective at creating action than any piece of paper.  Then, if less people are showing up to events such as this and just supporting programs through the internet, more laws can be made which make it harder for groups to come together and be heard.  These groups have to apply to be able to get together in a public place and then the law designates where they can get together, for how long and where to go, which has its own problems as has already happened.

Social media, as a force that makes it so that individuals can support things without actually physically showing up to show their support or performing actual actions in support of a cause or group can thus let laws strengthen and define association in more and more specific ways.  Which then can lead to a certain form of weakening this right to association.

Next I take issue with online shopping for similar reasons.


Can Democracy Work With Borders?

I don’t think so. I think that a democracy as envisioned in the Enlightenment cannot actually function with set borders.  In other words, in order to have a proper democracy as places like the U.S. like to pretend we have, we cannot have strong borders like we do currently.  This is because borders entail exclusion and the ideal of democracies like the U.S. is that no one is excluded and borders make it possible for people to be born into the country, which, if democracies are to actually work off of “social contract” theories that they tend to lean on now, every individual has to come to sign onto the contract on their own.

The first part is relatively simple, a border defines an area that is yours and an area that is mine.  That is the point of borders, if you do not agree try to create a border that does to rely on this fundamental separation.  Borders are exclusion.  Democracies in our world constantly want to promote “multi-culturalism,” “openness,” “diversity,” and all those other pretty sounding words that get thrown around a lot.  Barring the internal issues that exist in these countries (that’s a can of worms that I will not open, so just stay in International Relations please), borders fundamentally deny these pretty words that like to get thrown around in democracies.  Basically, having a border, means that there is a part of the Earth that is “mine” (the citizen’s) and part that is “yours” (the non-citizen of any sort).  Operating off of that assumption means that a person has to work to become a citizen, (citizenship tests) which causes problems since the basic assumption made when say, the U.S. Constitution was written, was that of social contract theory.  This theory is essentially that the individual signs onto the contract of a government, which is just fine and dandy, if the person can read the contract and understand it, go ahead and sign on all you want, requiring a person to take a test of random facts of the history of the country is not really useful in this way.

As a history note, us Euro-Americans are quite good at letting people sign contracts when they do not necessarily understand the contract and what it entails.  Why do we suddenly care about a person understanding the contract when they want to be a citizen? Anyway, just a reminder, the U.S. is far from perfect like some people seem to want to say.

The discussion above has gotten dangerously close to my second point so I will just go ahead into it here.  So we have this social contract theory and with well and strongly defined and defended borders makes this contract inherently exclusionary which is exactly against the ideals that people like to claim in the current world.  The next problem is that this sense of there being borders means that a person can be born into a contract, which is not necessarily a bad idea in theory I guess, but this being born into a situation leads to two problems.

1) laziness, being born into something means you probably do not feel the same impetus to work for it or care.  This does not apply to all people in all situations, it does seem that it applies for voting though, since an individual is just born into a democracy they do not really feel the need to participate to have citizenship in a democracy which weakens a democracy by their lack of participation.  So, if everyone, in order to actually gain citizenship had to participate (i.e. vote) those that actually want to be members (i.e. sign the contract and join-in) would go ahead and vote and choose to become a part of that society.

2) it allows a sense of “us” and “them” to form.  Being born in a certain place and gaining citizenship automatically allows one to have a sense of that area being theirs and that people who move in are outsiders and frankly, in North America, that is entirely false.  Essentially, when being born in a place equates to citizenship nation-states are created which have all sorts of problems of exclusionary practices.

This is admittedly, poorly argued at this point, but my point is that a democracy cannot function with borders because borders allow the creation of nation-states which means exclusionary practices and lax-ness on the part of the citizens that are born into the nation-state.  So, in order to get a democracy that truly works, the concept of a border has to be taken apart.  Luckily, these are just musings that I never have to worry about coming to fruition!

Smoking as Meditation

Everyone has heard about the dangers of smoking by now I am sure.  What about the benefits though?

To be clear, I’m not a smoker at all actually, but I have been around plenty and just have a wandering mind so I get ideas of this sort.

I think that smoking (cigarettes are the image I have in mind, but other drugs probably too) besides just getting the person high in some form or another can have positive benefits; not in the scientific, chemical way, I’m not worried about what causes cancer, what kills it, addictive substances and all of that.  I am interested in the way that people use smoking: as a form of meditation.  Meditation has its own set of benefits that one can look up although many have probably already heard of those benefits too.

Stop and think about it though for a minute, imagine you’re a smoker if you aren’t one already.  You are going to light up a cigarette.  You have to stop what you are doing probably or partially stop anyway, reach into your bag or pockets and get the cigarettes and lighter out, pull a single cigarette out of the carton and light it.

Getting this single cigarette lit in and of itself is a complicated process the person must know their environment in order to accomplish the task first of all, turning to avoid the wind, covering the lighter from rain, making sure nothing explosive is too close among other environmental aspects.  In meditation-speak this is called being present, or preparing to be present.  Aside from the environment you also have to stop and focus on getting that little bit of flame to it’s proper place inches in front of your face in order to get the cigarette lit and not burning yourself, tell me that isn’t a fairly complicated task.  Next, you have the lighter up to the cigarette and you have to take a nice big breathe in to get it properly lit-up and exhale…..feeling better already huh? Now repeat, deep breathe in…. and out….. and in…. out… do this for about five minutes and you will find that you are less stressed and “in the moment.” Don’t forget you’re smoking and to put the butt out before you get burned, that’s what you call a built-in timer.

That last part sounded like meditation for me, I don’t know about you.

Now that you’ve calmed down and gotten yourself more present let’s look at how society also seems to support this idea.  1).  The standard “cool-kid” idea has this meditation, being-present built into the image.  A cool kid is “cool” i.e. relaxed, seemingly happy and unperturbed. In a black jacket leaning against a wall, or at least that was roughly the image that I had when I was younger. 2). In movies what is a go-to line for needing to get out of a stressful situation or argument? “I need a cigarette” or something similar, maybe that is just the movies I watched that weren’t animated but still.  3). In these same movies, ever notice how in order to show extreme stress the person would go to try to light the cigarette and be so shaken they cannot find the lighter or something or their hands are so shaky they cannot hold the lighter up to their face or get it going or something along those lines? The last example gets us out of Hollywood.

4). Walk around a city that has smoking banned indoors and you will find the smokers out on the sidewalk standing around with a cigarette in hand.  Some just silently watching the world pass-by, some deep in thought, others talking to each other.  Notice how it is entirely okay for them to be on the sidewalk like that yet if you don’t have a cigarette in your hand there is a sense that the person is lazy, a loiterer, confused, lost or in some other way not supposed to be there or allowed to be standing on the side-walk for no reason.  Seriously, the only people on a side-walk who are allowed to not be on the way to some other point in North America are smokers, think about it.  There are other things that are beneficial in a way too with smoking. 1). These people smoking on the street start conversations with each other and 2). Its a way to get that idiot who won’t stop talking to shut-up! Not to mention smoking makes people take breaks which makes them more effective at work as studies have shown for breaks.

This first one is what I notice in university, students who are smoking and don’t know each other can start conversations with each other on neutral ground.  There is a sort of community that arises from being a member of the group called “smokers.” It’s built in networking! Built. In. Networking.  That golden rule of business and life.

Number two: when smoking it is also entirely okay for their to be a silence it seems.  Most of the time people are incredibly uncomfortable with silences in a conversation and start shifting around and looking for ways out or ways to get talking going again, yet you see people with cigarettes, it suddenly becomes entirely okay for them to be silent.  Breathe in.. breathe out… in silence, entirely acceptable in smoking circles.  This also means when you have that person who won’t ever stop talking, give them a cigarette, they have to stop talking for a few moments at least and you can avoid responding for a few more moments before they start rolling again.

Finally, this is the last one.  That addiction forces people to go take smoke-breaks.  Look up ways to be more productive in work and you know what the lists say? Take breaks, you know what you have to do when you have to get up, walk outside and smoke a cigarette? Take a break.  Not only is it a simple break, it is meditation as earlier mentioned.  Thus making you calmer and more productive.

I’ve almost convinced myself to pick-up the habit just for these benefits.  But I am aware of the risks associated with it and I do like my lungs, so instead of puffing them up full of smoke all of the time, maybe we should begin to allow everyone to have some alone time, a break or two and a touch of meditation.  Who knows, this may even help people quit smoking too.

Alright smokers, go ahead and light up now, I won’t prevent you any longer.

Why I am Embarrassed to be in University

I often find myself embarrassed to still be in school, even if it is university and so many people consider it a great thing that I am in it and “getting ahead” or whatever the new phrase is.

This is because in school I can still avoid responsibility.  This is weird to be saying because in a way I am doing the very thing I am embarrassed by but still.  School teaches me and gives me the opportunities to avoid actually taking responsibility of my own life and my own education.  I can always say I am tired or that I have a lot of work to do in school when I don’t really have that much.  I can always avoid taking responsibility for this stupidly expensive education, yet I don’t and as students, we generally don’t.  There is a certain maturity that has to be met in order to take that sort of responsibility and by going straight into university after high school, like I have done, you never gain that maturity, you just keep pushing your responsibility off for another four years.

I spend my days in classes thinking about other things, for example, this blog.  Instead of focusing on classes I’m off daydreaming about what I am going to write for a blog post, or what I want to do research on but then never do it because I am “too busy” either procrastinating/stalling on doing homework I actually have to do.  At the same time though, I am genuinely not interested in my classes, I am not necessarily choosing them because I have an interest in them, but because I have to in order to get a degree.  This is where I end up my own bind.

I am saying I am embarrassed to be in school because it allows me to avoid responsibility in classes in a way and then I say I am not taking responsibility because the classes do not fully interest me.  I am not even sure what adjective describes this situation, but it certainly is not coherent in my understanding and it does feel like I am still attempting to take a sort of back-door out of responsibility for my own actions by saying this.  But at the same time, if I was genuinely interested or allowed to do the things I want to take responsibility for i.e. do my own research and writing, wouldn’t I do a better job and be a better student?  Wouldn’t this hold true for every student who actually cared for their education?  Could there be a solution to student disfavor (? I am not sure of the right adjective to use) of classes in the solution to this question?

If instead of education being an assumed thing and top-down in what has to be learned, wouldn’t people be better students if they had to go out and get it themselves, do their own research and get interested in their own projects?  I understand there is a basic level of information that countries feel a child should know at some point, but after that certain level of basic knowledge, it seems to me that any other “general education” becomes entirely useless because the students would not be interested in it at all.

One might reply, but this can lead to too much specialization and not coming up against people with differing opinions, be it in classes or in texts.  My response has three parts: yes, no and so what? Yes: definitely, I would only start reading the bits and pieces of information I find interesting and useful to my own set of knowledge (I do this anyway…..).  Yet, this will make me learn a lot more in a way.  For example: an individual continues to research their little section of knowledge (I cannot come up with a single subject that is highly removed from other topics except for pure mathematics), by nature of being part of the earth they are probably going to end up having to spread out into other areas in order to better grasp the concepts that they are more focused on, therefore they will spread out in their specialization, even in pure mathematics I am sure that one will have to reach outside of their own little set of ideas for something. If someone is doing or learning about a topic they are bound to get conflicting reports of some sort or in some way, (i.e. scholarly journals, magazines, communication).  No matter how hard one tries to hermetically seal themselves into a certain group I am sure that once they step out into the real world they will run into competing opinions only relatively recently has technology gotten to such a level as to be able to completely encase oneself in a certain viewpoint without ever hearing opposition.  At the absolute least, there are going to be groups of people interested in the same type of things and they will disagree I am sure. So maybe one’s own curiosity is the only way to actually get a good education after a certain level and universities are not the places that promote that.

I am still embarrassed to be in school, and even more so now in a way because I recognize that I want to take responsibility for my education, but I do not know how while I am in school besides educating myself outside of school.  Yet I do have work I have to accomplish while in school (not saying I am “too busy” but homework does exist no matter what, taking time away from my own studying), since it is so expensive I really do not want to do too terribly and I certainly don’t want to come out with all of this debt and no credit for this time I have spent in university since it is apparently the only way to get a job (maybe) after I graduate currently.

This embarrassment may not apply to all other university students but it does to me and I certainly hope I am not alone in this respect, this is embarrassing enough and heavy enough of a burden with hopes that someone else understands it, let-alone if I found out I was the only one.

Well, that ended on a sad note.  Off to continue in the loop though of not taking responsibility by doing other work in a way….This entire thought is also strange too in seeing it from outside like this….

Change of Topic

For a bit of a change of speed, I will just be sharing some questions for today and they focus on food.

Namely the question is, has anyone ever done a study on food coming from the same place/environment?

ust search for the health benefits or detriments of basically any food and you can find at least one page talking about it and who knows how many recipes. You can also sometimes find some combinations that go well, “eat fats with this veggie because vitamins in the vegetable are fat-soluble,” “eat yogurt in the sunlight because vitamin D and calcium go together. Not to mention when to eat what type of macro-nutrient, pre-work out, post-workout, morning, evening, down to the minutes essentially. This is all okay in its own way I am sure but no one ever seems to have asked the question, do these foods coming from the same place in the world work together?

Say, for example, the “three sisters” grown by Native Americans, squash, beans and maize.  Luckily the wikipedia page does mention how beans and maize come together for proteins needed in the diet.  But the squash is entirely dropped at this point, is there nothing that the squash would have to add to this combination besides just growing well with the other two foods? I have no idea and it would be nice if there was something done to find out for my curiosity. Is this, two foods coming together well for human consumption the only time that this has ever happened though? I highly, highly doubt it.

Let’s look at another example from North America: tomatoes and avocados.  They are both native to Mexico and Central America.  Do those two foods maybe come together for health well and not just in taste like in guacamole?

Maybe I just have not come across these studies or commentaries yet, but it is a question that comes up every once in a while.  This is also saying that there cannot be other combinations, but couldn’t there be some truth or benefits to knowledge and practices that came about before science performed the right tests to “prove” them?


My Ethics: Part 3

Due to realizing how much this work will expand I am going to cut it short at this post.  I am going to writing out the rest of it and see where it goes from there.

Rationality, the God of our world currently.

Rationality comes in, insofar as it is reasoning and seriously thinking about the world and an individual’s situation that lets you understand 1) every situation is actually different and 2) a full overview of one’s situation.  This is again when being rational you can apply rules in an understanding way allowing you to actually be just towards a person, even one you do not actually know.  Human rationality and imagination allows an individual to place themselves into a different situation and come to understand some of the motives behind another individual’s actions.

This imagination and rationalization is what allows you to be just as mentioned in the prior part of this tirade.  Also, this imaginations and rationalizing can be spread across humans in a way that other ideas cannot do.  Every human being understands care, caring relationships, relationships in general and the emotions attached to them in various ways.  I think it is called “drama” in theater and part of the reason why the same plays and emotions can continually be called upon in entertainment: they are fundamentally touching to humans.  It is hard to get this feeling for every single human being on the planet though, the relationship I have with someone on some other continent whom I’ve never met is not the same as a peer in a class which is not the same relationship I have with my parents.  Each one is sort of like a different circle with me in the center, parents are closer than the peer which is closer than the other I’ve never met.

In order to gain access to this far-out relationship though I need to bring it closer to me, get it in arm’s reach for me to understand the relationship and the person.  Imagination and rationality are the things that produce this affect.  If I am told about the other’s situation I can attempt to put myself in their place and try to apply reason to the relation.

Reason does not end at this point though, it can take bigger steps.  But, what reason can do is for an individual to explore and too big for me to feel like taking on in the scope of blog posts.  So that’s the beginning of an ethics, caring, virtues and rationality.

My Ethics: Part 2

This is seriously just the second half of my draft, at 1,000 words total so far it’s a bit on the long side so I thought I should try to spread this whole system out a tad.  So continuing from the first part, found just before this one.

One can begin to see that children in some way, understand this work required for a caring relationship, those little drawings and gifts that children early on attempt to make for their parents as an example.  There is an understanding and a socialization that caring requires certain work and that gifts are an appropriate way of showing and promoting caring.  Then children start interacting with others.

When this interaction starts they are again taught that caring is important, they learn to show friendship, trust, make gifts for each other etc. etc. etc.  They learn to care about the other children and adults in their community and identifying them.  For a long time this is about as far as one would necessarily have to go in raising a child, but we live in a different world now which has different requirements: the children begin schooling.

Now, in broader respects children are sent to school and learn to identify their nation, they learn to identify others that are in some way related to them such as other English people, other French people, other people who are members of their extended community.  They learn they have to care for these peers in some form, they have favorites of course but they are all their own in a way and fellows.

If it stopped here (as it used to), we have serious and bad consequences: slavery, terribly devastating wars, brutality on scales we do not usually see, cannot fully comprehend nor imagine.  If one learns to only identify their “kind” their “nation” and not anything more it becomes really easy to view others as less than human and one’s own kind as higher.  At this point though it becomes hard to consider “care,” it’s just not a concept that lends itself to easily being expanded and recognized at this point.  This is where those virtues that children have been taught and socialized with come in handy.

Consider the virtues, generally they are things that relate to being a good person, good citizen/member of a community or anything similar to that.  Also it is generally assumed it seems that you cannot really be a good person in a vacuum.  Think about a good person though what is it you think of?  Not just a charitable, benevolent person that’s just a nice guy.  But they have a personality there is something memorable to them and you want to be with them, they are simply fun people to be with.  Aristotle deals with this a bit more specifically, for example when he talks of humor.  Someone who can’t tell or at least take jokes is not nearly as easy to care for or be around to have a relationship with.  They also know how and when to put in the proper efforts for relationships, if they make mistakes even.

Humans do make mistakes, simply.  Even this incredibly good person who you spend time with, notice another thing though: when this person makes a mistake, you are “just” to them through being understanding of their mistake and their situation, you care back to them and show it through appropriate gifts etc and being understanding and supportive etc. when the good person makes a mistake.  You are being impartial with regards to yourself, say the good person forgot something to show that they care for you at an appropriate time (birthday for example I guess).  You remain impartial and understand that they had other duties or things to worry about and you are fair to them through acknowledging they make mistakes and cannot possibly do everything at once, unless of course you are hanging out with God on a regular basis, that is a slightly different story.  You care enough about your relationship and your friend that you are willing to be fair to mistakes made by either party.  Rationality comes in for this also.