Lurking: How a Person became a User by Joanne McNeil

BOOK REVIEW BANNER LURKING BY JOANNE MCNEIL

This book can be found here on Goodreads and here on Amazon

The book was provided as an ARC via Netgalley for an honest review

This book features the following topics/genres – The Internet / Social Media

Publisher’s release date: 25 February 2020

Check out my animated book cover art for this book here!

The distinction between a “user” and a person is both evident and understated. Joanne McNeil makes it apparent from the beginning that the reference to a person as a “user” has both positive and negative connotations. This book is partially a journey towards understanding how and why this word is used in online communities. It is also a window into viewing the impact the term “user” has had on those communities and the people that created and inhabited them – people like you and me.

“Everybody has a trace of an ache—some eternal disappointment, or longing, that is satisfied, at least for a minute each day, by a familiar group and by a place that will always be there.”

The author takes the time to visit the Internet in its infancy. Some of the websites mentioned won’t even register with anyone born after the 90s. But for those of us a little older, it’s like taking a trip down memory lane. I vaguely remember the days of AOL, Napster, mIRC, Netscape Navigator. Many of these communities were frequented by users just as much as online communities like 4-Chan and Reddit are today. It’s interesting to see her view on these communities and how they came and went and were inevitably replaced by others. I wouldn’t go so far as to say the more recent communities are better (and in some ways, they can be a lot worse), but it’s fun to think back to more carefree times when the possibility of getting “doxxed” was never a thing.

The first two chapters of the book were harder for me to digest, and it wasn’t until the third chapter “Visibility” that I began to connect with the author, mainly through the “Friendster” pages. While I barely remember “Friendster” as an online community, the real-life events and details Joanne discusses in this chapter resonated on a personal level. This quote, in particular, is a good example;

“Then again, people fulfilled with their lives generally do not waste time on social media”

The quote above got me thinking about the social media interactions I do have and whether or not this quote relates to my own experience or anyone else’s for that matter. I guess, in a way, we are all seeking fulfilment of one kind or another, and nowadays, there are just so many ways to obtain it. Back then, it seemed like choices were a lot more limited as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr weren’t invented yet. But the point Joanne makes here is quite crucial. Everyone needs something. Everyone is searching for a way to make their lives better. Everyone needs communication and a sense of community. Everyone wants to belong. This chapter is well written and relatable and made me feel validated in my decision to review this book. As a reader, I looked for a little bit of myself in these pages and was lucky enough to find it.

“Blogging was a departure from the sanctitude and solitude of writing”

Reading about someone talking about how the term “blogger” and “blogging” came into existence is funny to me. It’s funny because I consider myself a “blogger” of sorts; I’ve worked as a freelance writer and even continue to blog on several platforms, including this one today. And the quote above is every bit the reality. Why write for just yourself when you can share what you think and feel with the whole world? Well, some people probably continue using private diaries online and offline, and I used to do this too. There is a lot that can be said for keeping your thoughts entirely private. Putting thoughts and feelings on the internet is never private, even when you choose to post anonymously. Someone somewhere can see it, has access to it and can do just about anything with it. It is never entirely yours. That in itself is something to think about.

The way that the book is segregated is essential to the flow of the book. Joanne uses her own experiences as a method of explaining many of the fundamental uses the internet has had and continues to have. And there are questions I found extremely relevant not only then but now such as has the landscape of what we consider to be “cyberspace” changed? And if so, how? Have we changed with it? Reading some of Joanne’s paragraphs brings the “idea” of what the internet is to life. It becomes a living, breathing thing capable of both growth and stagnation, just as we are. We are as much a part of the digital world as we are separate from it. For some of us, this is almost a co-dependent relationship.

In the following chapters, namely “Sharing” and “Community,” I made even more connections with the author, particularly since I use many of the social media communities she refers to here. I distinctly remember the “Tumblr” ban where all adult content was banned in 2018. I was online and present for the aftermath, which didn’t have any impact on my personal experience at all other than receiving a warning for reblogging an image of Adam Driver with his shirt off. You may be interested to know that the people and creators I was particularly connected to are still there today, and I now have less of a reason to use Tumblr Savior as a result of the 2018 ban. I consider this a definite positive but not all Tumblr users would agree. And this was just one of many real-world examples I connected with on a personal level.

My first impression of this book was that it was full of facts and information about digital super-companies that I already knew of and was not interested in pursuing as a topic. But that was naive of me. As I progressed through the book, I felt as though I was looking into a mirror. Reading a very personal account of how the internet has changed us as human beings while also experiencing Joanne’s journey through the years was enlightening. I think this is a significant book to read, particularly in the digital age. You may not connect with everything the author chooses to explore. However, if you’re a user of the internet (as most people are), particularly of social media, you will find this book is an open and honest view of life online and everything that entails including its historic beginnings. I will also add that if you are not someone who uses social media daily or someone who isn’t interested in how life online has progressed through the last 10 – 20 years, you may find this book a little outside of your scope of interest.

BOOK REVIEW RATING BANNER LURKING BY JOANNE MCNEIL

 

 

Book Review Requests and a quote from Stephen King

I haven’t been reviewing books for very long but I have reviewed multiple other types of media such as video games, manga, anime, movies and graphic novels. While I wouldn’t say that once you review one thing, you can just do the same with any media you review, it is a skill that I’ve honed over the years and is something that takes practice just like anything else. So, I am quite surprised to be receiving book review requests already considering I haven’t reviewed a lot of books thus far. I started a book blog on Tumblr and I have been approached to review a writer’s book from there, which surprised me.

It does feel nice to be approached to review something but I am very aware of my time constraints and other obligations that I have. I had to advise the author that I would be able to look at it once I get my list of review books completed first. Speaking of that, I had a few days off from pretty much everything because I needed it but I will have my next review of Second Sister up shortly. And then I’m hitting both Lurking and Meeting Boudicca next.

Here’s a neat little quote from Stephen King that I saw on Tumblr that I thought would be nice to leave with you all for contemplation:

No one can tell what goes on in between the person you were and the person you become. No one can chart that blue and lonely section of hell. There are no maps of the change. You just come out the other side. Or you don’t.

 

New book to review – “Meeting Boudicca” by C. A. Powell

Now that I’ve received the review copy from the author, I can talk about another book to add to my review list from Book Tasters. I’m taking a little bit of a step away from cybercrime and cybersecurity and throwing myself into historical fiction (which I love!) The book is by author C. A. Powell. It’s called “Meeting Boudicca” about a fictional meeting between two British queens during the Roman invasion of Britain.

Here’s the animated cover I just made for it:

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Queen Boudicca is defeated. Her Iceni and other British allies are dead or fleeing from the vengeance of unmerciful Rome. The British rebellion is over. The beaten Iceni Warrior queen has gone into hiding and awaits her poison elixir which will aid her departure from life while the waiting druids wish to bury her in a secret place.
However, before Boudicca can complete her final and drastic act; a messenger arrives with news of a potential alliance. The Brigantes Queen Cartimandua may be able to offer a new pact against Rome. This is confusing because Cartimandua is loyal to Rome and has betrayed other Britons who fought Rome in the past.

Cartimandua is equally perplexed. She has no desire to aid Boudicca and fears the Iceni queen. Could both sovereigns be pawns in another participants’ ploy? To find the culprits of the conspiracy, Cartimandua chooses to indulge the inappropriate consultation of two very different British queens.

I have to say that I’ve been fairly blessed with really good books to review lately and I’m so looking forward to reading them and sharing them all over social media😁 (and here, of course!)

Book Review – F*ck No by Sarah Knight

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This book can be found here on Goodreads and here on Amazon

This e-book was provided for review via Netgalley for an honest review

This book covers the following topics – Non-Fiction / Self-Help

Publisher’s release date: 31 Dec 2019

How does someone get better at saying “No?” Why would you want to be better at saying no? According to Sarah Knight and her successful series of books that tackle everything from not giving a f*ck to putting oneself first, there is a myriad of tricks and practices everyone who has problems with saying no can learn out of the safety of their lounge.

How is this book written for the audience?

Sarah Knight has made a successful career out of helping people face their fears and shortcomings, and she continues this stride with her latest book, F*ck No!: How to Stop Saying Yes When You Can’t, You Shouldn’t, or You Just Don’t Want To. Sarah is a TED speaker and a New York Times bestselling author. So what makes it so easy for some of us to say no, and why is it so hard for others? Sarah speaks from personal experience as a full-time corporate book editor who got tired of giving authors lousy news daily. Ask yourself if you have ever been the person that always has to please everyone? Or the push-over that always caves when they should stand their ground? Or even the overachiever that takes on way too much work for minimal reward or none at all? If you can relate to any of these scenarios, you will benefit greatly from reading this book.

Some of the highlights of this book included the following advice that Sarah offers unapologetically to the reader:

– Building real, applicable boundaries for yourself and those people in your life you find it hard to say no to. These people can be family members, friends, bosses or colleagues. It doesn’t matter because Sarah’s advice can be moulded around to fit with any relationship that you have.
– Having personal policies that help you to apply the boundaries you’ve created to real-world situations.
– Dealing with those people that won’t take “no” for an answer and how to continue being in control when you don’t feel in control
– Dealing with the guilt of saying “no” in a responsible way that can come in many shapes and forms
– Approaching the “fall out” or consequences of saying “no” and working to move beyond these limitations

The language used – is it simple enough to understand for the everyday reader?

One of the essential concepts in Sarah’s book is that not all situations and examples will be something you can relate to. This book is structured in such a way that you can skip and re-read sections that are relevant to you and your life. After all, this book is all about improving yourself, and only you know where that improvement needs to be applied.

As an example, I’ll use my own experience here – I don’t have a single problem with telling telemarketers “no” or telling door-to-door sellers “no, but thank you!” But some people might. Sarah has thought about her material extensively, and I do mean that this book is extremely comprehensive and covers just about every situation you could imagine and then some. So again, you can pick up this book and apply what you’ve learned to Sarah’s material – look at the chapters you want to look at and ignore the rest. Or, if you’re a completionist (like I tend to be), read the entire book and apply only what you know to be relevant when required. It is that simple.

That said, however, the language used in this book may be a little “blunt” for some readers. Not all readers will appreciate the way Sarah uses certain words (mostly slang and swear words) in her writing. So this book won’t appeal to everyone. But I enjoyed the stripped-down nature of the book, and its rawness made it easier for me to feel comfortable reading about difficult situations. I prefer the no-nonsense approach.

What can be gained from the book – does it educate the reader?

I didn’t choose to review this book because of any particular need that I had other than I wanted to read it because I thought the subject matter would be interesting. And I also appreciate the way that Sarah approaches her material. But the further into this book I progressed the more I began to realise that this book is addressing experiences I have had. I remember feeling like I couldn’t breathe or like I was choking because of the pressure other people in my life were putting onto me. I remember the horrible feeling that crept over me whenever I said “yes” to a person I didn’t like. I remember how annoyed and disgusted with myself I felt because I had given into the guilt, yet again. I am one of the people that Sarah has spent a considerable chunk of her career trying to reach out to. Perhaps something subconsciously was telling me I needed to read this book. Maybe the experience can be the same for you too. This book could be a revelation or could provide clarity into your shortcomings or even deeper than that.

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Movies in Theatres – A Discussion about Doctor Sleep

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Doctor Sleep (2019)

Trailer
IMAGE VIA IMDB

Director:

Mike Flanagan

Writers:

Stephen King (based on the novel by), Mike Flanagan (screenplay)

Stars:

Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran | See full cast & crew »

MILD SPOILERS

Who knew that Danny, the little kid from The Shining had some sort of super power?

I certainly didn’t and I’ve seen The Shining multiple times. So fast-forward a good 20 odd years and our boy Danny has grown into a maladjusted human being who only likes two things in life; alcohol and running from his “demons” who just happen to be real. No, really and it’s not just Danny who sees them which I’ll get to in a bit.

You might be thinking, what could possibly be connecting this film to The Shining other than Danny? And that’s a fair question. Well, without spoiling it, there are more distinct tie-ins further on in the film to The Shining which I’m sure some fans will enjoy. I wasn’t very moved myself. Kubrick’s The Shining was a lot more psychologically scary, disorientating and a little disturbing which is why I enjoyed it. While Mike Flanagan did an alright job of integrating some of the “what the hell just happened” mood into Doctor Sleep, it really didn’t grip me half as much as similar scenes in The Shining did.

The fantastical aspect of the film is very much fantastical with lovely shots of the night sky, floating people and birds-eye views of the pretty city lights. But there was something that didn’t fit with the villains of this little story. Rebecca Ferguson as the villain Rose, The Hat, was cool and ethereal-like – I definitely see the likeness to Stevie Nicks in her character. She was everything you’d expect a generally good villain to be; a little creepy, a little aggressive all the while hiding a very dangerous secret under her cool but very big hat. The link between our hipster looking villain and her gang and Danny is explained which is essentially why this film is a sequel to The Shining, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it is.

Danny accidentally stumbles upon this very special friend named Abra who is linked to him through The Shining (the super hero power mentioned earlier). That is what Danny calls it so we’ll call it that too. The Shining then becomes this “thing” but I think I liked it more when it was obscure and unexplained.

To classify this film as a “horror” is a pretty big stretch, even with the nasty bad guys who reminded me more of the vampire family in Twilight. And you can take that any way you like.

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The Hermit and The King by Paulo Coelho

I have updates coming and I’ve been busy behind the scenes reviewing my first book and writing another review for Doctor Sleep but for now, I’d like to blog this post by one of my favourite authors, Paulo Coelho called The Hermit and The King, It’s only 30 seconds of reading but how inspiring is this?

An old hermit was once invited to visit the court of the most powerful king of those times.

“I envy such a saintly man, who is content with so little,” said the ruler.

“I envy Your Majesty, who is content with even less that I,” responded the hermit.

“How can you say such a thing, if this entire country belongs to me?” – said the offended king.

“For precisely that reason. I have the music of the celestial spheres, I have the rivers and mountains of the whole world, I have the moon and the sun, because I have God in my soul. Your Majesty, on the other hand, has only this kingdom.”

Trailer Discussion – The King, Vita and Virginia

The King (2019)

You know what’s great? Having a pretty face. You know what’s even better? Having a pretty face and the ability to act most people twice your age under the table. I’m speaking of course, about Timothée Chalamet who plays the reluctant Prince who would become  King Henry “Hal” V of England. Having seen both Beautiful Boy and Call Me By Your Name, I was transformed from a film junkie who knew nothing about the hottest act in Hollywood to a firm supporter of Timothée’s work. Needless to say, I was eagerly awaiting The King’s arrival on Netflix. My review of this film will be up very soon! I’m going to sit through my second viewing first because it was that good!

Vita and Virginia (2018)

How this movie went completely under the radar for me is just weird and I only found out about it by looking up the British Film Festival movies showing at my local cinema. That aside, it hasn’t had great ratings which is one of the reasons why I want to watch this. The film follows the controversial relationship between Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West. I’ve never read any of Virginia Woolf’s work but the book “Orlando” is said to be written all about her relationship with Vita. Tough times for two women in love in the 20s, I’m keen to see where the film goes in the story-telling.