Something for the weekend and from the other side . . .

As you may know, dear reader, this year I made some significant changes to my life, primarily giving up my job. I wanted to have a better work life balance so I could spend more time of more creative pursuits.

Getting my artistic career up and running is quite a steep learning curve. It’s going into a new world, where I don’t quite know what I should be doing or who I should be speaking to. As I meet more people and find out more, I am learning lots. At the same time I do need to keep working in familiar territory to keep paying the bills.

Of course, there many places where my existing skills and experience do come into play, particularly around technology and social media. However, I have found it very different experience promoting my art versus my comfort zone of commenting (and maybe ranting) about education, technology, shoes and cups of tea.

My relationship with Facebook and Instagram is a case in point. I have linked both these accounts, and I have a Facebook page specifically for sharing my work in progress and completed work. I really enjoy the process of creating an image, possibly more than the final image itself. I am keen to share the different stages of work more widely and social media is made for that.

Having connected Facebook and Instagram is taking me into Facebook far more than previously and in a different context. Selling “stuff” online is also something I am exploring. Again I have data concerns however I know I don’t have the skills to set up as secure online retail environment, so I have to go with a commercial provider. I’m not going to sell a lot online, but if I want to continue to eat I need to try it!

I am exploring Facebook ads (which do at times annoy me and seem to take up a lot of my stream) and wrestling with my conscience about using their algorithms and data collection for marking purposes. I am complicity evil by using their service to target people who could possibly be interested in buying some of my goods? Can I justify filling other people’s timelines with ads? The answer is probably yes to both . . .

This weekend I’ve taken my first foray into online retail, using Shopify. This service allows you to create simple buy buttons (as well as online stores). The buy button aspect appealed to me as I am very much at the experimentation stage. I don’t want to set up a full shop and lots of the big online shopping sites do take quite a hefty bit of commission. It’s serious stuff and I am not that serious – yet! Hopefully these buy buttons will allow me the flexibility to sell stuff as and when it suits me at a relatively low cost, with all the complicated stuff done for me at what I feel is a reasonable cost.

The set up was pretty straight forward and so far so good with the online ordering. However it was really nerve wracking waiting for that first order to come through. A new kind of imposter syndrome, nervousness . . . however I am hoping that this will be the first of many foray’s into online retail.

This is all wrong, so what next?

This is all wrong  . . . and this post is a week late.  Nevertheless, it still is nagging at me to be written. 

I was moved to tears by Greta Thunberg’s speech at the United Nations last week. Simple words, clear message, belief in a greater good and a non-ego based plea for collaborative action to save the planet and provide hope and more importantly a future for our planet and the species that remain on it. I was also left thinking, but what now?  

Last week also saw Lady Hale, Chair of the UK Supreme Court announce a momentous decision around the illegality of the current UK Government’s proroguing of parliament.  In contrast to the Thunberg speech, Lady Hale’s measured words brought a huge smile to my face, possibly a fist pump, a sense of justice being done. Again, I was left thinking, but what now?

Both women of course have been celebrated, derided and abused in equal measure and their measured, meaningful words are a stark contrast to the continuing stream of dumbed down rhetoric tumbling out of the mouths of (mainly male) UK Cabinet members and our Prime Minister.  

Boris Johnston the former Daily Telegraph columnist who was never short of a slight obscure adjective is now the apparent master of language of the people, and rote phrases such as “surrender bill”, “do or die”, reverted to type at PMQ last week when the only response he could think of in response to the reality of death threats received by female MPs, was “I’ve never heard such hum-bug in my life”.    I’m not even going to attempt to try and explain my reaction what happened in Parliament last week, but once again I was left thinking, what next? 

The manipulation of language within politics, and indeed throughout culture is nothing new. However, there is something terribly wrong with what is happening just now.  So why is it that the real crisis we are all facing and the words so eloquently expressed by Greta Thunberg are not gaining widespread tracked,  yet phrases like “surrender bill”, “do or die” , traitor” are?

Like many of my peers, I miss reasoned discussion around our current political situation. I find myself at a loss to understand how many people cannot see that what they are being told about for example Brexit is in many cases simply not true. Brexit cannot “be done” on 31 October. What might happen then is the agreement of a Withdrawal Agreement, there will be many, many more deals and arrangements to be negotiated.

Yesterday, I read a really interesting article by George Monibot, around this very topic.  In the article he describes some research into how we react to, and what we hear in times of crisis and stress.  The research has shown that “when we feel threatened, we cannot hear calm, conversational voices”  and that in times of fear,  “it is the deep background noises we need to hear” why is why “In the political context, if people are shouting at us, moderating voices are, physically, tuned out. Everyone has to shout to be heard, ramping up the level of stress and threat.” So what next?

Well in the article Monibot calls for more reasoned behaviour, and mostly importantly respect and the need for safe spaces where calm conversations and equally importantly listening, can take place. It seems to me that education needs to play a key role in creating and sustaining these safe, civic places, where new forms of public pedagogy around climate change (which in turn would lead to discussions around trade, markets, values etc) can develop. We also need to start to reclaim social media spaces in this way too to make them calmer spaces and places. I would love that to be next.