Why My Avatar

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When I was a child, I used to watch cartoons, like most kids do. One of my favourites was the Flintstones. In the words of its creators, they were “the average stone age family”. My family was what could be considered an average family at the time. The family in the Flintstones consisted of: the father, Fred Flintstone; Wilma, the stay at home Mom; their daughter Pebbles; and their pet dinosaur Dino. The series revolved around the adventures and antics of the Flintstones and their good friends and neighbours, the Rubbles. In many ways, it was its times equivalent of the Simpsons or Family Guy.

As I got older, I started to watch other, live action shows. When I went away to university, I rediscovered the Flintstones. At lunchtime in the residence building where I lived, they were one of the programs that was watched, by consensus. As I rediscovered them, I discovered that in addition to the superficial layer that I had enjoyed as a child, there were at least two other layers of meaning. These layers of meaning and complexity (child, adult and big picture) are reflective of life today, and certainly how I see life.

What is the point of the above story? Simply this, to set the context for answering some questions that I get about my choice of avatar. Why don’t I use my picture? What does my avatar have to do with who I am? The answers are all interconnected.

As I discussed in my first blog post on The Promise of Social Media, I believe that social media has the potential to help move humankind past at least some of its oldest prejudices. However, at least for the next generation or two, those of us alive have been raised in an environment where prejudice was a reality. Many of us have fought to not listen to and pass on those prejudices to the next generations. But while they still exist, getting to know the inner person before the outer person, is one of the best way to fight those prejudices, whether in ourselves or others. After all, how can you be prejudiced against someone that you already like and respect. In the end, what relevance does age, gender, race, nationality, tribe, hair colour or lack thereof, or any other thing potentially visible on the surface have to do with who I or you truly are at the core. For that reason I choose to use an avatar that at least in some way represents who I am inside.

So who was Dino the Dinosaur? He was the equivalent of a big friendly puppy that we might have as a family pet in real life. He was loyal to his extended family and protective of them. No matter how old he was, he was always young at heart. You rarely saw him show any emotion except love, unless his extended family was threatened somehow. This is who I aspire to be. Who do you aspire to be?

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The Promise of Social Media

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#Jan25 #Tunis “The Great Reset” #coffee #drinks #usguys

What do these things have in common? The one thing that they all have in common is that #SM has been a key enabler. Technology, the very thing that many have warned would dehumanize us, instead has rehumanized us through the power of social media. By allowing peer-to-peer sharing of knowledge, wisdom, and simple news, unfettered by the filters of censorship, political correctness, etc, it has allowed us individually to connect with others from different genders, cultures, nations, religions and races. It allows us to communicate with a diversity of people whose beliefs and nature are different from ours, but no less valid and whose differences remind us that we are really part of one race; the human race, and that all the other differences are skin deep. Perhaps, this was what John Lennon had in mind when he wrote Imagine.

Social media has allowed a revival of the original form of democracy, as practiced by the ancient Athenians. The recent events in Tunisia and Egypt are not the end, but merely a beginning. While all the changes that this rebirth of Athenian democracy will bring will not be as dramatic as these, they will ultimately reshape the world as we know it, not only in the “third world”, but also in Europe and North America.

People all over the world, follow each other without regard to race, religion, gender, nationality, or appearance.  When I look at my Twitter followers and those that I follow, I see a beautiful diversity that helps break down the artificial walls between us.  This is why I use a cartoon avatar.  My physical appearance is not who I am, any more than it is who you are.  We are all so much more than can be seen by our surface.  In many ways, our surfaces have kept us and our ancestors apart.  I choose to not let this superficial barrier get in the way of my connecting with others who have a spirit, intellect or passion that I admire and want to know better.  I don’t look at picture avatars, as they can get in the way of know who another really is.  Over time, social media allows us to see who a person really is, inside where it counts.  My cartoon avatar is my way of saying that I welcome World2.0 where superficial barriers no longer separate us.  In Egypt they say “Muslims, Christians we are all Egyptians”.  I say, “Muslims, Christians, Jews, Atheists, Buddhists, Hindus, Black, White, Red, Yellow and Brown we are all humans”.

This rehumanization of the human race and breaking down of barriers between genders, nationalities, religions, cultures, tribes and races is the ultimate promise of social media, or at least that’s what I believe. What do you see as the promise of social media?