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Sunday, 03 January 2021


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The digital age enables negative energy, vintage as well as freshly brewed, to be spread far and wide. It seems that some groups "default" to that attitude out of habit, whether it is work groups or online groups. One, or possibly a few, participants can influence others and lead to a negative group habit. Another photography site I read (I won't name it but it rhymes with lodge doormat) has certain regular participants who bring that energy. A thread entitled "my daughter just got a new puppy" turns into "what layabouts federal employees are" in just a few iterations. Thank the moderators, the lightning rods and referees of such places, for trying to keep it on an even keel.

Negative energy abounds in our current world. Some people seem to feed off of it like a fictional monster off an electric grid. They seem to enjoy antagonizing and "winding up" others. Sadly many inhabit the political and journalistic sphere and appear to have influence beyond that which is reasonable. Photo forums are not immune. I have stopped reading those on DP Review for that reason. Even LULA can get vitriolic with ad hominem nastiness. I value and support your work because it is intelligent, reasonable and actually fun to read most of the time. I'd love to play pool but have not done so in years; I'd love to eat better but manage to survive with my fish eating vegetarian spouse. I'd like to see less rancor but also have little hope of that given that so many people in our country seem to be so hopelessly selfish. Best to you in the new year.

Two points, Mike: firstly, if you throw something away, then going by my personal experience, within no more than a fortnight you will curse yourself because that item turns out to be just the key to something else you may be making or considering making, by which time it's too late to go back out to retrieve it from the garbage; secondly, cleaning the house is an exercise in futility, as everyone's experience must surely prove. One of the more short-lived onanistic pleasures, then.

I've been on the 'net since the early 1990s. Before the World Wide Web there were News Groups. News Groups were sorta like present day forums. Flame Wars were common.

The one thing that hasn't changed is that many people hide behind internet handles An anonymous little twerp can act like he's a buff 6'2" tough-guy. This results in people typing things that they would never say face-to-face.

The web is full of self styled experts parroting misinformation they got from another clueless expert. Meh!

Life happens, and if I can't control it, I pay no attention. I look both ways before stepping-off-the-curb, but I can't stop the sky-from-falling. Worrying about things you can't control just causes unnecessary ulcers.

Mike, If you're sure that blank stab-bound book has to go, don't throw it away. Send it to Dan Khong, who has resolved "to journal" this year. Maybe he can use it. Hand bound books are excellent for journaling. I've been making my own for years with mixed-media collage pages that incorporate my photographs.

This is a good post to start the new year, thanks very much. That's what I like about your blog, upbeat and positive and covers a wide range of subjects even though it's not always about photography. I wish you and the readers a happy and healthy 2021 with less negative energy.

"One of the reasons I started TOP more than 15 years ago is that I wanted there to be a little oasis where at least gratuitous negative energy was kept mostly at bay."

Mike, I think you have achieved that goal and I thank you for it.

I have experience of five or six other photographic sites and their associated forums and some I can think of were loaded with 'negative energy'. It was interesting that later on, one by one in a completely haphazard, non-organised, way different members revealed in their posts on the site the fact they they had suffered from and/or had been treated for depression. They also tended to reveal at times strong views that they held on politics, work, society, social norms, etc.

Keep up the good work, Mike. A happy and healthy New Year to you and all who use this web-site. Oh, and happy hours on that pool table, too. ;-)

Mike, your elaboration on the meaning of tolerance and the implications for human behaviour is worthy of framing. I'm sure many of us have struggled with the mystifying behaviour of others in this trying year. Your very humane perspective was welcome indeed on this grey morning. I will try to do better.

Your scenario about the tradesman and customer made me chuckle. Just before lockdown we had a family of 3, friends, come and stay due to a temporary housing problem (they have moved now.)
The dad is a general contractor and told me that visits to potential customers for an estimate are also an evaluation of the customer. If he feels ‘bad vibes’ then the estimate is almost always enough to keep the customer shopping.

There are some folks you just don’t want as customers.

Being in a bad mood is most enjoyable when you can share it with others!

But Mike, it really is all about ourselves: we can't be anyone else and, equally, they, the others, are thus saved from being us.

One of the worst talents we can have is the ability to see - or worse, understand - the other person's point of view: the moment we do that we have lost the argument.

The above does not preclude trying to get along with others in peace. Thing is, though we are possibly not elected to be in charge of others, those who have been are patently no more capable of doing a good job with their responsibility than is anyone else who seeks those jobs. Someone has to take a stand; may as well be me, and starting with my own affairs and protecting those interests against all comers.

Blatant examples of lack of proper control from those officially in power is visible in every Covid news story: how many masked, prominent guys have touched elbows in a display of "awareness" followed in nanoseconds by a hug or a shake of the hand with somebody else? When will politicos insist that those idiots still walking the streets unmasked be arrested and go straight to prison, no questions asked? A couple of nights ago a disused factory/warehouse in Barcelona was scene of an illegal rave party. Police were sent to break it up and several of their cars were burned; of the hundreds of attendees, only a few were arrested. Why not all of them? That hundreds go to these events in times such as these demands "tolerance" levels of zero in the treatment of such morons.

It's easy to wish for a perfect world of loving neighbourliness, but most unlikely ever to experience it.

Kudos to you for sending underused objects out into the world, where they can fulfill the purpose for which they were intended.

I think your definition of tolerance is a lot more active than most peoples'. Short of repeating that whole explanation (which was wonderful), it's like you need a new term, like "conscious tolerance" or "engaged tolerance." Neither of those quite gets it, but I'll keep working on it and let you know if I come up with anything.

That bit about the forum members seems to be a universal theme when it comes to unmoderated online comments. Worst is anything political. Matters not how one leans because any resemblance of an intelligent conversation quickly turns to childish name calling. Reading past the first few comments is most often a waste of precious time.

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